Part one of a series of articles devoted to Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2008

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2008, Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, signed the Domestic Violence Awareness Month Proclamation, Sept. 22.

Every October, military communities worldwide commemorate this month by focusing on ways to prevent domestic violence.

This year, the Army has built a campaign based on the theme "Soldiers, the Army Family & the Community: The Perfect Combination for Prevention."

Everyone is responsible for keeping families healthy, reporting suspected incidents, and looking out for their battle buddies.

"Domestic violence isn't just hitting, fighting, or an occasional argument," said Cole Weeks, Army Community Service's Family Advocacy Program manager. "It's an abuse of power. The abuser manipulates and controls the victim by calculated threats, intimidation and, at times, physical violence."

Activities across military and civilian communities will provide public awareness and education this month. Our military community here in Hawaii has several events planned that will be advertised in the Hawaii Army Weekly throughout October. Activities include food drives, a clothesline display, and a silent witness display.

The clothesline display contains T-shirts made by survivors of domestic violence. Through these shirts, survivors present messages of how the abuse has affected their lives.

The silent witness display represents women on Oahu who have died as a result of domestic violence.

"(Domestic violence) is a crime that ruins families, weakens communities and undermines military readiness," said Dr. David Chu, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "We are calling on our service members, women and their families to take a stand against domestic violence."

Soldiers and family members can take a stand against domestic violence by learning the red flags of domestic violence and reporting suspicious actions to the proper authorities.

"As a community, we need to take a stand against violence in all forms to provide a safe and secure environment for all," Weeks said.

Recognizing the warning signs and symptoms of spousal abuse is the first step to breaking free.

If you're afraid for your immediate safety, call 911. For help and advice on escaping an abusive relationship, call 808-624-SAFE (7233).