October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence refers to the abuse of a spouse/partner or former partner by another. On Fort Bragg there are many services available to help anyone who is being abused by a spouse/partner or anyone needing help with relationship problems.

The Army has a mandatory program called the Family Advocacy Program, which requires any report of either domestic violence or child abuse to be completely assessed so that any services or treatments can be provided as soon as possible. This includes separating couples for at least 72 hours at the beginning to ensure the safety of victims. The commander and first sergeant are involved in the entire process. Persons interested in reporting abuse or getting help should call the Military Police (396-0391), Womack Department of Social Work (907-7869), or the Womack Emergency Room (907-7467/6559) to get help. All of these agencies are trained to be able to skillfully respond to victims in need of emergency or other help.

Fort Bragg victim advocates maintain a 24-hour, 7-day a week hotline (322-3418) to assist any victim of domestic violence with getting emergency help. They also can simply answer questions or provide guidance to  victims as to where to go for help if that is all that is desired. Some victims are worried that they will get the active-duty partner/spouse in trouble by seeking help.

If someone is worried about this, they can call the hotline and simply not give their name. They will still receive the maximum help possible. Help from these advocates can include helping to find emergency shelter, getting a court restraining order, find help to make an emergency move away from an abusive spouse, legal assistance, or simply accompanying and staying with a victim during an emergency room examination or court hearing.

Womack Army Medical Center Department of Social Work provides couples, individual, or child therapy, for suffering Families and a variety of relationship oriented supports including anger and stress groups and specialized, state-of-the-art groups for abusive partners and for victims. They fully assess all reports of abuse and present them to a treatment team, called the Case Review Committee to ensure the most comprehensive treatment and other services are made available to Families.

Help includes (if there has not been any physical abuse) advice on places couples or individuals can go for individual or couples counseling, including Military One Source (1-800-342-9647) which provides counselors in the Fort Bragg area free of charge, unit chaplains, or Department of Social Work at Womack Medical Center (907-7869). Couples and helpers should be aware that marriage counseling is not recommended and could be dangerous if a couple has had an incident of recent partner abuse.

There are programs that will help Family violence victims who are worried that reporting their Soldier/Airman abuser will cause them to be homeless if he/she is kicked out of military service or jailed. This program, called transitional compensation, will provide pay, medical, dental, PX and commissary privileges to the dependents of abusive servicemembers discharged from the service for that abuse.

There are also protections for foreign-born victims of abuse who may have been threatened with deportation by their abuser, if the try to get help.

Army Community Service (396-5521) has a wide variety of supports for couples or parents who are struggling. They have monthly couples workshops, including a new Scream Free Marriage workshop starting in November. The ACS has 20 other free workshops with free childcare on topics such as parenting, stress or anger management, self-defense, 12 play mornings for parents and children per month and information about other help available for Families and couples in the area. They provide nurse home visitors free of charge who can provide parenting information and advice to new, or expecting parents anywhere in a 90 mile radius of Fort Bragg.

Help is just a phone call away if you, or someone you know is suffering from marital problems or partner abuse.

Help is also available at the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.