FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and 2017 marks 30 years of prevention and awareness across the country.

This year's theme is, "See the signs, avoid the hazard. Address the problems early."

"Domestic Violence Awareness Month was launched nationwide in October 1987 as a way to connect and unite individuals and organizations working on domestic violence issues and raise awareness for those issues,'" Luticia Trimble-Smith, Army Community Service family advocacy program manager, said. "Supporting and observing brings attention to this issue. All victims and survivors should be heard, and when we support and observe we are giving a voice to those individuals."

"Over the last three decades, much progress has been made to support domestic violence victims and survivors, to hold abusers accountable, and to create and update legislation to further those goals," she added.

According to Vivian Leonard, ACS family advocacy victim advocate, Domestic Violence Awareness Month table displays will be set up at Lyster Army Health Clinic and the Soldier Service Center, Bldg. 5700, throughout the month.

"These displays will provide educational information on healthy relationships, domestic violence facts and various items to keep the attention on awareness and domestic violence prevention," she said. "Domestic violence awareness and prevention information is available at the ACS FAP offices throughout the year.

"[Domestic Violence Awareness Month] is important because it is an opportunity to celebrate survivors and remember those who have died as a result of domestic violence," she added. "No one deserves to be abused, ever, for any reason. That's why it's important for all of us to get involved, raise awareness and speak out in support of victims and survivors during Domestic Violence Awareness Month."

These displays will provide educational information on healthy relationships, domestic violence facts and various items to keep the attention on domestic violence prevention. Domestic violence awareness and prevention information is available at the ACS FAP throughout the year.

Everyone is also urged to wear Purple on Fridays in October to show their support for victims and to end domestic violence, she added.

Awareness, according to Trimble-Smith, is a key component to detecting and preventing domestic violence.

"Awareness and prevention begins by learning how to identify the risk factors associated with domestic violence before it begins, and by learning how to promote respectful and healthy behaviors in relationships," she said. "Learn healthy communication skills. Learn safe and appropriate ways to raise the issue of domestic violence with family, friends and co-workers."

A new addition to 2017's Domestic Violence Awareness Month campaign will be an instructor-led dance and exercise activity.

"Let's Dance, Not Fight" will be held Oct. 20 from 6-7:30 p.m. at The Landing. Several on post agencies will have tables set up to provide helpful information on resources to help individuals stay healthy, happy and resilient.

"We wanted to provide a fun family event to help people come together and also to foster an environment of awareness and education," Trimble-Smith said. "The event will be similar to a Zumba-style class, and everyone is invited to come and enjoy themselves."

What should an individual do if they become aware of domestic violence?

"Domestic violence can be lethal," Leonard said. "If you or someone you know is being abused, call local law enforcement or 911 immediately.

"For someone who has never experienced domestic violence, it may be difficult to understand why victims don't report abuse," she added. "Deciding to leave an abusive relationship (poses) serious risks to the victim and children in the household. Support the victim by being patient and non-judgmental. The safety of victims and children is essential. Confidential information and support are available through the Fort Rucker Family Advocacy Program victim advocate 24/7 hotline at 379-7947, where they can make a restricted or unrestricted report."

Individuals can also increase their awareness and knowledge of domestic violence through FAP services and programs on post.

"FAP offers a variety of educational programs that promote protective factors and reduce risk factors," Trimble-Smith said. "The key is early referral to prevention resources. Advocacy services are 24/7, providing crisis intervention that is non-clinical; safety planning; accompanying the victims throughout the legal and medical processes; and largely empowering the victim to make decisions that are independent and courageous. Two programs within AFAP are the victim advocacy program and new parent support program."

For more information, call 255-3246 or 255-3898.