Holloman hosts Black Eye Campaign: What would you do?

  • Published
  • By A1C Jessica Sanchez-Chen
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

“Are you okay?”  

It may seem like a simple question, but for many it could be the start of a life-saving conversation. The real question is…would anyone ask?

Holloman’s Family Advocacy Program and the Special Victims’ Counsel hosted a Black Eye Campaign to bring awareness to domestic violence and recognize the importance of speaking up for Airmen and Guardians, Oct. 26, 2021, here.

“The purpose of the Black Eye Campaign is to raise awareness for domestic violence,” said Staff Sgt. Vanessa Bal, 49th Wing special victim paralegal. “It is also to make sure that we’re all looking out for each other.”

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Five volunteers wore make-up to look like they had black eyes and were sent across base to gauge the response from those around them including friends, family, coworkers and strangers.

“I wanted to participate in this experiment because I was aware of domestic violence, but I did not realize how much of an issue it is in society,” said Airman 1st Class Diekololajesu Akanji, 9th Attack Squadron aviation resource manager. “I was always curious about how I could get involved to help, educate myself, and help educate other people.”

Holloman offers a multitude of services, training opportunities and tools for those who need it or want to volunteer, including the Outreach and Prevention Classes, Airmen and Family Readiness Center, and the Chapel.

“You can have programs in place, but you won’t truly know if it’s helping if it’s never been tested,” said Akanji. “This experiment really has my heart going out to victims of domestic violence.”

Individuals who approached the volunteers learned that they were not victims but rather doing a social experiment; then volunteers gave them reference cards with information on what to do if they suspect anyone is experiencing domestic violence.

“When someone came up to talk to me, it made me feel like I wasn’t alone,” said Akanji. “If this experiment was actually real in my case, and people asked me if I was ok, it makes me feel that there are people out there who care about me.”

However, during the experiment, not everyone the volunteers came in contact with decided to step up and ask to see if the volunteers were safe.

For Akanji, it was disappointing when people he knew did not acknowledge that he may need help. It made him reflect on himself and his reactions and what he will do moving forward.

“Before this experiment, if the roles were reversed, I probably would not have said anything,” said Akanji. “But, after participating in this experience, if I see something, I am definitely going to say something. Being in their shoes for a brief moment really makes my heart go out to all of them.”

The U.S. Air Force supports programs like the Family Advocacy Program to help bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence to make sure the community at Holloman and communities across the U.S. are safe.

“It’s can be just as simple as asking if someone is okay,” said Akanji “It’s enough to let someone know you care.”

If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence you can contact your local law enforcement; the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate at (855) 336-6833; the Special Victims’ Counsel at (575) 572-4941; or the Family Advocacy Program at (575) 572-7061 or (575) 572-8057. For full list of resources, visit: holloman.af.mil/About/Units/Family-Advocacy/