In support of Domestic Violence Awareness month, 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams and Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson signed a formal proclamation Sept. 29 in an effort to bring more knowledge and understanding to the topic.
“This is a topic that generally, in our country, we don’t really want to talk about it,” Abrams said of domestic violence. “It’s highly personal and there is never generally a good outcome when it occurs. There are plenty of people who suffer from domestic violence that are embarrassed or otherwise choose to suffer with it, and if our signing (the proclamation) can encourage those who are abused to have the courage to raise their hand and seek help, then it’s absolutely worth our time.”
This year’s campaign theme is “Together We Can End Domestic Violence: Act Now.” The goal of the command is to provide a safe community that contributes to the quality of life and well-being of everyone. The proclamation itself underscores the importance of community involvement and encourages bystanders to take action.
In its simplest terms, domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors that can include physical, emotional, sexual and psychological attacks. Moreover, domestic abuse has no limitations and involves men, women and children regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.
Approximately 2.3 million Americans each year are raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former intimate partner, according to 2009 data from the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control.
Additionally, the number of military calls to the National Domestic Violence hotline has increased within the past five years, directly impacting installations like Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, according to www.oregon.gov.
Roughly 71 percent of Americans know someone who is a victim of domestic violence, according to 2009 data from the Allstate Foundation.
Amid such a highly sensitive topic and the cloud of misconception some victims have regarding their role in domestic-violence cases, the role of a bystander has grown increasingly important and requires bravery.
“Be courageous and take a moment to put themselves in that person’s shoes and would they want someone to help them,” Abrams said. “Because the person who is usually the victim, generally speaking, wants to assume responsibility for the abuse and sees themselves responsible for what is happening. … People on the outside can see clearly who is the perpetrator and victim. They can see it clear as a bell, but it take an incredible amount of courage to step in and say something.”
The Stewart-Hunter community has a host of resources designed to help soldiers and families affected by domestic abuse.
“The Family Advocacy Program is a multi-disciplinary team of dedicated individuals who are committed to enhancing the well-being of soldiers and family members,” FAP Manager Patricia Ayala said. “Each and every member of the FAP team has made a commitment to provide life-changing and enriching services to each and every customer we serve.”
“Everyone must do their part to make Stewart-Hunter safe for all soldiers, family members and civilians,” Abrams said. “If you know or suspect someone is experiencing domestic violence, intervene and encourage them to contact FAP and medical personnel at Winn, Tuttle or other designated points of contact.
“If you are a soldier or family member involved in an abusive situation, you are not alone. Get help now. Call FAP and speak to a victim advocate. They can provide information, resources and support. Domestic violence is never OK.”
For more information on FAP, call 767-2882 at Stewart and 912-315-6816 at Hunter.