By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterJanuary 16, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 16, 2014) -- Three military installations joined forces at Fort Rucker last week to help understand the distinctive and diverse issue of domestic violence.
Fort Rucker, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Fort Benning, Ga., Soldiers and civilian workers attended a domestic violence seminar Jan. 6-10 at Wings Chapel to help understand each other's role in the community, spread awareness and to learn more about the complicated issues that surround the controversial topic, said Luticia Trimble-Smith, Family Advocacy Program manager.
"We have realized that domestic violence is not just a law enforcement problem but a community problem," said Larry Maxwell, behavioral science education and training division instructor at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. "In this class, we have a mixture of victim advocates with FAP, we have Criminal Investigation Command, we have military police, we have social workers, and we have drug and alcohol counseling representatives. We all have to work together to best help with Family violence issues or cases."
The class taught participants several things: the dynamics of domestic violence, the psychological and behavioral dynamics of the victim and the subject, the effects on children, the legal aspects of investigating, non-violent crisis intervention, officer safety and other types of abuse, such as abuse of elderly people.
Maxwell and other instructors and speakers lectured to the class, but a large portion was spent in role playing, practical exercises, group activities and discussions, and question and answer sessions.
"We finish the course with a practical exercise called 'In Their Shoes.' We divide them into groups, but each group represents one victim and they play through 17 scenarios, and they have to make choices based on a set of cards," said Maxwell. "Their decisions lead them to more abuse or safety. It is kind of an eye opener that ties everything together, because for many it is the first time they understand how a victim feels when every option is a poor one and there seems to be no way out."
During the week-long seminar, Maxwell mixed participants into various groups "so everyone can understand their piece of the puzzle."
"We want everyone to understand what role other organizations play, so we can find the best possible outcome," he said. "MPs need to know what kind of questions FAP has or questions a commander is going to have. It's getting the community together to learn what each of us needs to help the Family and even the subject."
Spc. Susan Marie Stone, 6th MP Detachment, said that the mixing of the occupations was her favorite part of the class.
"Learning about the different perspectives was great because as law enforcement we don't get to see the emotional side to it. I have learned that there is so much more involved," she said. "This training is really important because we can get complacent with our job and anything could happen even though this is a small installation. Learning how all aspects of the post need to work together on these cases was really eye opening."
One of the most important things Maxwell said the students learned was the psychological effects. A lot of times people understand the law, but not why a victim would stay with an abuser.
"We can't just take a step in the victim's shoes. We have to look at the situation through the victim's eyes because a lot of times we just don't understand the victim's actions, and the cycle of violence is important to understand," he said.
Maxwell spent 20 years as an MP and another 20 on the teaching side of the program, and with all that time and experience he said he often uses personal stories to help teach those in his classes.
"Education is power and this training helps everyone involved to understand these situations on a more personal level. I put a lot of personal stories of what I have seen in my lectures, and I think that helps it hit home to the students," said the instructor.
The class gave three upper-level college credits to those that completed the course, as well as continuing education units and police officer standardized credits.