October may be National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall clinical staff members within Army Community Service say they believe domestic violence intervention, outreach and education is a yearlong process.
"Domestic violence is always happening, it's not exclusive to October," said Diane Neilson, JBM-HH Family Advocacy Program victim advocate. "It doesn't matter what uniform you are wearing, your appearance or the role that you play--domestic violence happens--it's just not always talked about because it's happening behind closed doors."
In an effort to ensure domestic violence remains a relevant conversation, ACS hosted an 8-hour workshop entitled "Community Response to Family Violence," June 23 at Memorial Chapel on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base. Guest speaker Lundy Bancroft, an author and domestic violence specialist has researched, studied and written about the modern batterer profile and contributing factors that lead to domestic violence.
"This is a national challenge both inside and outside the military," Bancroft said. "Batterers are sometimes good Soldiers--but what type of Soldier is he behind closed doors?"
Bancroft posed this question and provided other valuable information to JBM-HH clinical staff, military spouses and civilian providers who attended the workshop. While domestic violence batterers are primarily male, class, race and national origin do not have a disparate impact on who the perpetrator, offender or victim will be in a domestic violence situation, he said.
"There is not a lot of information about this kind of abuse [or profile] in our society," Bancroft said. "Some women don't even realize they're being abused. Some behaviors are still considered normal or the way relationships are supposed to be," particularly in a society that puts emphasis on physical and sexual violence, and less on psychological violence, emotional, mental and verbal abuse, he said.
In an effort to ensure more military-personnel are able to recognize if they may be involved in a domestic violence situation, Bancroft created what he called a consistently true modern batterer profile:
- Manipulative with a good public image
- Coercively controlling and intimidating
- Entitled and self-centered
- Believes he is the victim
Factors that influence a person to become a batterer, according to Bancroft, include substance abuse, mental illness, a lack of consequences for their actions and community collusion.
"Domestic violence is a particularly conscious offense," Bancroft said. "So what this means is domestic offenders aren't losing control of themselves [or their emotions]. The problem is they're exercising control over their spouse or domestic partner. They will not change by gaining self-control, they will change only by letting go of control over their [significant other]."
He also advised against the glamorized "Beauty and the Beast" theory, which often plays out in Hollywood films and sitcoms.
"[Some] women are trained to believe they can change a man with love--they believe their love can make the most awful man lovable--Beauty and the Beast is a myth that won't work," Bancroft said.
Neilson and other JBM-HH clinical staff members are intent on further education and outreach.
"Clinical staff members need to understand the underlying dynamics they're going to be dealing with when military families walk into their office," Neilson said. "It's a family secret that needs to be addressed and confronted."
Victims of domestic violence can make a report to the 24-hour domestic violence hotline by calling 703-696-6611 or 703-919-1611 (after hours).
Pentagram Staff Writer Arthur Mondale can be reached at email@example.com.