Domestic Violence Awareness Month kicks off with Purple Friday
October 15, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 11, 2012) -- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and people from around post showed their support by donning purple and participating in the kickoff event at Bldg. 5700 Oct. 5.
The Family advocacy program hosted the event, which included speeches, demonstrations, food and vendors.
"This year's theme is Don't Turn Your Back on Domestic Violence. A victim can be anyone--a Soldier, a coworker, a friend. Some people assume that victims are not trying hard enough or that victims deserve it, but those beliefs can get people killed," said Luticia Trimble-Smith, FAP manager.
FAP ensures victims that the staff is there to help anyone in need of guidance and counseling.
"We want everyone to be aware of the resources that are out there to assist victims and their Families to receive the support that they need to ensure everyone in their Family is safe," said Trimble-Smith.
As a visual demonstration, several volunteers wore T-shirts that had symptoms of abuse written across them and stood in front of the podium as speakers advocated for domestic violence awareness.
The special guest speaker was Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander.
"Since 2009 Fort Rucker has had three deaths from domestic violence. That is a tragedy. That is three deaths too many. We have to step forward and be vigilant. Be aware of the signs; don't assume someone else is handling it. Be bold, be blunt and ask questions," he said, adding that he thinks people appreciate when someone goes out of their way to make an effort to ensure that someone is not being battered.
The vendors at the event gave out stress balls, bookmarks and pamphlets on the history of the purple ribbon, how to handle conflict, how to be a better listener and have proper communication with a partner, how to manage a stressful relationship and how to stay together.
Guests such as Marcel Dumais, chief of police for Fort Rucker, felt the kickoff event was a success.
"Fort Rucker has a lot of leaders that care, and that reflects into events like this. Leadership gets involved here and that is seen in our lower numbers of domestic violence than the surrounding areas. This was a great event to get people out and raise awareness of domestic violence. It is events like this that help the community so much," he said.
The shirts that represent the types of domestic abuse will be displayed in Bldg. 5700 over the course of the month, according to Ruth Gonzalez, Army Community Service relocation readiness program manager and one of the volunteers who wore a shirt during the event.
"My shirt represents a spouse that has been abused emotionally; others include a controlling spouse or a physically abusive spouse. I think it is good for people to read the shirts to give them a better understanding of the signs of domestic abuse. Something such as an overbearing spouse combined with [physicality] can create a harmful environment, which leads to domestic violence," she said.
Early notification, according to Dumais, is the best way for victims to remain safe and healthy.
"We have to act when we hear anything about domestic violence. We can't wait until it gets to the point where it may result in a death. Early involvement is the way to handle domestic violence issues, and I hope people are concerned enough to get out and notify a supervisor in a case where they believe domestic violence is happening," he said.
FAP, according to Trimble-Smith, has a year-long program to fight domestic violence.
"We are always developing and providing programs that empower and strengthen Families, October is just the month were we have large, special events. We will have the "Five Languages of Apology" couples workshop Oct. 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Commons. The workshop will explore expressing regret, accepting responsibility, making restitution and requesting forgiveness. Lunch will be provided to all those who participate," she said.
Domestic violence is often bound to the home and goes unreported, said Trimble-Smith, enforcing the garrison commander's discourse about spectators taking a stand against it.
"We have a responsibility to our fellow person. That is a requirement as human beings--to care for each other. So, it is incumbent for each of us to recognize the signs and to not pretend something isn't there or assume that everything is O.K.," said McRae.
A person needs to feel safe in their home and relationships have to have mutual trust for a healthy bond to grow, which Trimble-Smith said is lacking in domestic abuse cases.
"Those who have gone through verbal, emotional or physical abuse often do not want to leave their spouses, they just want the abuse to stop. They are not victims, they are survivors," she said.