The Defense Department is observing National Domestic Violence Awareness Month by reminding the military community about resources and programs to help in preventing or stopping domestic violence.

President Barack Obama issued a National Domestic Violence Awareness Month proclamation Oct. 1, emphasizing the U.S. government's commitment to reducing its prevalence, supporting victims and bringing offenders to justice.

Domestic violence is a national problem that cuts across socioeconomic, age, gender, ethnic, racial and cultural lines.

The FBI reports people are more likely to be assaulted in their own homes by someone they know and trust than on the street by a stranger. Typically, the injuries are more devastating.

But domestic violence isn't always physical, officials emphasized. It can be more subtle: emotional, psychological or economic. Regardless of its form, it hurts individuals, ruins families and weakens communities.

The military faces the same challenges as society at large, particularly in light of the high operational tempo and the strain it puts on servicemembers as well as their families.

The Defense Department has added muscle to its programs addressing all these issues, including domestic violence. This month, it's stepping up its outreach to remind the military community about programs in place to prevent domestic violence and to ensure people know where to turn if they experience or witness it.

Installation family support centers offer a wide variety of programs and classes for military members and their families, and Military OneSource and Military Homefront provide online access to information and resources, officials noted.

In addition, the family advocacy program is responsible for addressing violence in military families through prevention, early identification, intervention, victim support and treatment for abusers.

The program's staff members work with commanders, military law enforcement personnel, medical staff and family center staffers and chaplains, as well as civilian agencies, to provide a coordinated response to domestic abuse.

To protect those who might otherwise not file a report, the family advocacy program allows people to submit a "restricted report," officials explained, to report domestic abuse by a servicemember without initiating a law enforcement or command notification or investigation.

Officials call information the most important tool in stopping domestic violence before it begin, and emphasize that everyone can play a part in preventing or ending it.

They recommend these steps:
-- Teach young people that violence is not acceptable.
-- Promote general domestic violence awareness by talking to your friends and family about this issue.
-- Offer support and understanding not judgment to a friend or family member that you may be concerned about.
-- Support your friends and family by informing them of resources that can help them if they are experiencing relationship problems.
-- Become active in domestic violence prevention activities on your installation or in your local community.
-- Report to law enforcement or your local family advocacy program is you suspect abuse.

Page last updated Thu October 7th, 2010 at 12:38