Domestic violence prevention is everyone’s responsibility, not just the military police, command, or medical personnel.  “Don’t Turn Your Back on Domestic Violence” is this year’s Department of the Army’s theme for Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October.  “Victims are likely to seek help from their friends and Families, rather than ask for help from anyone else,” said Stacey Hale, Education and Community Outreach Coordinator for the ACS Family Advocacy Program.

“It is imperative that the community understand the resources that are available for both prevention and who to contact if someone has been hurt by a partner,” Hale added.

Domestic violence, or partner abuse, is a set of behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other.  These behaviors could include physical injuries, emotional abuse, and/or sexual abuse.  Most of the time, when a person hears the term domestic violence, they immediately think of a black eye or another injury.  Many people who have endured years of partner abuse may never have physical injuries, but the emotional scars are present.  Name calling, intimidating, threatening to cause harm or to take away the couple’s children are some examples of emotional abuse.

Partner abuse is not just a woman’s issue; anyone can be a victim. It is not just an issue for married couples either.  It can happen when a couple is dating, in a same-sex relationship, or even after a couple has ended the relationship.  According to the National Carolina Department of Administration, 51,701 women and 9,582 men called domestic violence help lines in 2010 and 2011.  This is a staggering number, considering most victims of partner abuse never seek help.

In an effort to bring awareness to this issue, there are several key events planned for the entire community in the month of October. There was a domestic violence awareness luncheon at McKellar’s Lodge, on Tuesday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to highlight the events of the month and to stress the importance of prevention and available resources as well as the Army’s zero tolerance policy on abuse.

Hal Runkel, the well-known author of the ScreamFree Marriage Program, will be conducting a workshop on Tuesday, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Watters Family Life Center (tentative – please call to confirm).

This workshop stresses the importance of staying calm and strengthening the connection with your partner.

On Oct. 12, Family Advocacy will host a Fall Relationship Festival, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at McKellar’s Lodge.  The goal is to have fun with your partner, re-connect, and gather information on enhancing your relationship through tips and tools offered or through free educational material.

These events are only three of many being planned during the month of October.  At each event, participants will receive valuable information about what services are offered in our community to help prevent domestic violence.

For additional information about these events, or to find out more about our classes, call Family Advocacy Program at 396-5521.

The military police are the reporting point of contact on Fort Bragg.

If you suspect, or observe domestic violence, call 911 if there is immediate danger or 396-0391.

If you are being hurt by your partner, call the Victim Advocate Hotline at 322-3418.