SC Gov. Haley declares October domestic violence awareness month
By Senior Airman Jonathan Bass, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 01, 2015
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley declared October as domestic violence awareness month.
Haley wrote in her proclamation, "The crime of domestic violence violates a person's privacy, dignity, security, and humanity through the systematic use of physical, sexual, and or psychological assault, or abuse in order to exert control over that individual."
For Team Shaw members, this proclamation is directly correlated to current Air Force policy, which has recognized domestic violence awareness month for more than 16 years.
"(An investigation team) is able to present information and determine whether each incident meets the DoD criteria for abuse," said Patti Busser, 20th Medical Operations Squadron family advocacy program outreach manager. "If the incidents meet criteria, both the victim and offender are engaged in a treatment plan that includes counseling, education, and referrals to appropriate services such as the mental health clinic and or (Alcohol and Drug Addiction, Prevention, and Treatment) services. This is a very proactive approach to domestic violence; it is also a fair and equitable."
South Carolina ranks first in the nation in terms of women killed by men at more than two per every 100,000, which is twice the national average.
"The number of women killed by men is probably the most damning of statistics related to domestic violence in a community," said Busser. "After working as a social worker for more than 20 years, I am convinced the only way these outcomes change is when the attitude of the community changes.
"If the members of any community who hold the power (police officers, judges, advocates, commanders) take a very proactive stance against abuse - strong policies, laws, and procedures that say to both a victim and offender 'we take domestic violence very seriously and we hold offenders accountable to the fullest degree possible' - the number of violent episodes will drop," she added.
For safety and security reasons, the Air Force and Team Shaw do not release the number of cases reported each year, but because each report is studied as a separate case, and since many reports that civilian law enforcement wouldn't study are studied by the Air Force and DoD, the number of reports investigated by the DoD is higher than their civilian counterparts, said Busser.
The statewide domestic violence task force convened by Haley issued a report containing 50 recommendations for needed changes in the systemic and community response to the crime of domestic violence.
In May, South Carolina's legislature passed reforms in domestic violence laws that aim to increase accountability for offenders, provides for state law prohibitions on the possession of firearms by anyone convicted of domestic violence, and requires prevention education for students in schools.
"One of the domestic violence resources for military members is the Family Advocacy Program," said Busser. "That includes prevention services like Family Advocacy Strength-based Therapy, information and referral services, couples communication education, and anger management classes.
"Mental Health Clinic services are available to active duty members and dependents can receive mental health care through the Behavioral Health Optimization Program, Military One Source, and the Military Family Life Consultant," said Busser. "The chapel is also another great resource for counseling services. There is a domestic violence victim advocate at Shaw who is on call 24/7."
To learn more about domestic violence awareness month or to support a local domestic violence organization visit: www.scsaysnomore.org.
(Information from a press release from The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence was used in this article)