Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Help available for victims of domestic violence

by Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

5/8/2013 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Domestic violence kills. Three women die each and every day at the hands of their intimate partner according to the National Institute of Justice and the Centers of disease control and prevention. It's a shocking statistic and one that military members aren't immune to.

Domestic violence or interpersonal violence is a pattern of behavior resulting in emotional or psychological abuse, economic control and/or interference with personal liberty, according to Shirley Crow, the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate located at Peterson Air Force Base. The behaviors may be directed toward a person who is a current spouse or former spouse, a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common, a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile.

"Individuals must make a choice about how they want to live their life," said Crow. "They must reach out for help before the law enforcement or other agencies become involved and strong consequences occur."

Interpersonal violence comes in multiple forms. Although often associated with physical abuse, this type of violence can be emotional, economic, verbal and sexual.
However, sexual assaults within relationships carry a different dynamic, said Paula Krause, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator on Schriever, and will be handled by the DAVA.

Regardless of the type of abuse, those looking for help have many resources at their disposal including the DAVA, Family Advocacy Supporting Effective Solutions, marriage counseling or marriage link training programs. TESSA, a domestic violence intervention program, is also available in downtown Colorado Springs.

"Basically the choice is to stay or leave, but leaving can very dangerous and victims should plan carefully and know their options in order to leave safely," said Crow. "Think about safety planning, where you're going to go and what individuals can safely support and help."

A victim of domestic violence often leaves seven to nine times before they are successful, said Crow. Often their plan falls through, they run out of money, or have some other issue that allows their partner to manipulate them into coming back. Researching and getting help before leaving can assure this doesn't happen.

One of the biggest issues with domestic violence is that it can become very clouded.

"Often the offender can present well to the public. Issues become a 'he-said she-said' situation that are often difficult to sort out," said Crow. Family Advocacy is a resource to help sort out the facts and support victims.

This doesn't mean there isn't help, and different reporting options are available.

"Restricted and unrestricted reporting are options created by the Department of Defense to encourage victims of IPV to take care of their needs. It offers the victim choice," said Crow. "If command or law enforcement are involved or the client wishes to have their involvement the reporting option is unrestricted. However, if law enforcement or commands are not aware of the situation the victim may choose to obtain services such as medical, mental health and DAVA services. This option allows the victim to learn about options and services and have their medical and mental health needs taken care of privately."

Privacy and confidentiality will continue throughout the process unless the privacy of the victim becomes outweighed by the risk of harm.

Help is there for those who don't want to report an incident as well.

"Emotionally you can get beaten down," said Crow. "If you hear negative things enough, you can begin to believe them. There are programs to strengthen you back up."

As an educational seminar reinforcing healthy interaction, FASES is one of those programs.

By building on strengths already possessed by individuals that have dealt with some form of maltreatment in their lives, it is designed to enhance individual, couple, and family functioning through awareness of ineffective interpersonal patters. The program is a one-time four-hour class provided by Family Advocacy.

For more information or to get help if you are in an abusive relationship, call your local Domestic Violence Crisis line or the local Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate.

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