Domestic violence survivor shares story
October 11, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Oct. 11, 2012) -- So far this year, 200 cases of domestic violence have been reported to the Family Advocacy Program at Army Community Service.
This startling statistic was shared with an audience of 32 garrison leaders and various helping professionals including social workers and nurses during the installation's annual inaugural event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The 90-minute presentation, "Remember Me," was held Oct. 3 at McGill Training Center and was sponsored by ACS. The guest speaker was William Kellibrew, chair and president of the board of directors of the William Kellibrew Foundation, an organization dedicated to breaking the cycles of violence and poverty.
"Domestic violence is very important to us," said Celena Flowers, Family Advocacy Program manager. "It's one of those things that kind of never seems to go away."
In his remarks before signing the proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein attributed the low attendance to the fact that domestic violence is "hard to talk about."
"Domestic violence should never be tolerated," Rothstein said. "We can't turn a deaf ear to domestic violence. It's going to take all of us as a community to work together to start mitigating or lessening the impact that domestic violence has."
Flowers said that domestic violence is a national epidemic. In 2008, nearly one in four women and about one in 10 men in the U.S. reported experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or dating partner at some point in their life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Department of Justice reported in 2007 that on average, each day in the United States more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends
The installation's Family Advocacy Program emphasizes the prevention, education, prompt reporting, investigation, intervention and treatment of spouse and child abuse, according to the Fort Meade website. FAP provides support groups, seminars, workshops, counseling and intervention services for Soldiers and their families to enhance their marital relationships, develop their relationship and parenting skills, and improve their quality of life.
In his presentation, Kellibrew said his mother was a victim of domestic violence.
He shared the story of how on July 2, 1984, at age 10, he helplessly watched as his mother Jacqueline and 12-year-old brother Anthony were shot and killed in the living room of their Capitol Heights home by Marshall Brent Williams, his mother's boyfriend.
Williams also threatened Kellibrew at gunpoint, but the child begged for his life and was spared.
Williams committed suicide in the family's home on the same day of the murders. A former Marine charged with desertion, Williams had previously been convicted in 1971 of second-degree murder on Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Va.
"I didn't know what was going on," Kellibrew said. "I lost everything, I lost my mother."
Kellibrew said that the day after the murders, he saw his distraught grandfather Jack Mitchell shoot a neighbor over a parking space for the undertaker who had come to Mitchell's home to discuss funeral arrangements. The neighbor survived the shooting.
"I was lost growing up as a teenager," Kellibrew said.
He said he lived a life of "despair" and thought of committing suicide at age 13.
Kellibrew credited his grandmother for raising him, calling her a "shero."
"I don't stand here by myself," said Kellibrew, who has three other siblings. "Every step she took was an extraordinary step."
A consultant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Center for Trauma-Informed Care, Kellibrew also spoke about the center's work in designing trauma-specific interventions to address the consequences of trauma in individuals and help them heal.
He explained that trauma-informed care is an approach to treating victims of trauma that changes the paradigm from one that asks, "What's wrong with you?" to "What has happened to you?"
"Trauma-informed care opens the door for dialogue and communication," Kellibrew said.
Trauma-informed care can help victims of trauma feel empowered by providing treatment and services in an environment that fosters trust and compassion.
Kellibrew ended his presentation with an a cappella performance of the song "You Raise Me Up," made popular by singer Josh Groban.
"It was very moving," said Joyce Coleman, an administrative support technician at the Directorate of Emergency Services. "It was amazing how the guest speaker went through things but kept his dignity as he was growing up. He was able to cope with his trauma and now works with others."
For more information on domestic violence and the services available to help service members and their families, call Army Community Service at 301-677-5590.