Domestic Violence Awareness

  • Published
  • By Capt. Schneider Rislin
  • 49th Security Forces Squadron
Domestic violence defined is abusive behavior used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating. In most cases, the violence is criminal and includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.) which tends to escalate over a period of time. Domestic violence can also involve acts of sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Other behaviors characteristic of domestic violence are emotional, psychological and financial abuse; though they are not inherently violent in nature, they are forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence. Additional indicators of an abusive relationship include name calling, keeping a partner from contacting family and friends, interfering with a partner seeking employment, threatening harm, and use of intimidation to control a partner's behavior.

Domestic violence is a social problem that is present across ethnic, racial, gender, and cultural boundaries. Though there are cases of abuse against men and women, victims in most cases are women. Children in a household also suffer residual effects of abuse but sometimes fall victim to violence and neglect.

Just as civic leaders engage to prevent domestic violence in American society, the United States Air Force also works fervently to prevent it. So, what can be done to get ahead of this problem? Key leaders at all levels can make an impact by maintaining open lines of communication not just with their Airmen, but also with their families. Enlisted and officer alike, families are affected by a number of stressors unique to military life. Airman families are often faced with life as newly (or recently) weds, some are new parents, and also new to the Air Force. Some families are more experienced in life but are dealing with the prospects of major life changes brought about by a new job in their unit, a deployment, an approaching PCS, separation from the service, or any combination of issues creating stress for the family. Leaders taking a proactive approach can motivate their Airmen and families to get help. Prevention is a two-way street, though. Individual/family education and awareness is vital to staying healthy because Airmen with the mindset to recognize a problem are also important. Recognition and commitment to a relationship of dignity and respect ultimately leads families to get help before a crisis occurs and pain is inflicted.

Leaders and their Airmen have a variety of resources to assist and relieve the stress. Key resources available range from, but are not limited to, the unit First Sergeant, Key Spouse, Military and Family Life Counselor, the Family Advocacy office, the base Chaplain, and military 1 source. Using these resources, leaders and their Airmen can engage to foster health for the family before an incident happen requiring formal "chain of command" attention and other legal consequences affecting the military member.

With regard to Domestic Violence, there is only one simple bottom line: Domestic violence should not happen to anybody, ever. Domestic violence hurts and the consequences reach deeper than just what is defined as a criminal act. Though healing is achievable, victims of domestic violence bear the punishment and will wear emotional scars for the rest of their life.