ARLINGTON, Va. -- Power, manipulation, intimidation and often death. These are all symptoms or issues associated with domestic violence. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in four women and one man will be murdered in violent domestic incidents each day in our country. It's a statistic Staff Sgt. Altermese Kendrick, a Chaplain's assistant at Fort Hood and a volunteer with Teaching Them to Love Outreach, orT3L, a domestic violence shelter located in Killeen, Texas, is all too familiar with. It's a statistic she's trying to lower as we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month during October."I witnessed numerous women, in my childhood, endure the pain and embarrassment of domestic violence. I decided that I would not allow myself to feel as though I didn't deserve better than that. My own sister and mother endured pain and then I watched them escape," said Kendrick. While Kendrick's family members were fortunate enough to escape, far too often that freedom comes at a much higher price; death.Domestic violence cuts across all socio-economic boundaries including education, gender, and the military. Retired Master Sgt. Lolita Gilmore is the Executive Director of T3L where this month's initiative is Operation Family Matters. The intent of the initiative is to address the maladies of domestic violence and its impact on families. T3L hopes to educate the public through awareness and prevention."Empirical data suggests there is a direct correlation between domestic violence, substance abuse, depression, truancy and other juvenile delinquent behaviors," Gilmore said. "In serving this unique population, it is not uncommon to witness such dynamics as anger, unhealthy coping mechanisms and acting out or self-medicating. Hence, the purpose of Operation Family Matters."
Although domestic violence is mostly thought of as a physical attack, there are often invisible wounds, emotional and psychological trauma, that accompany the violence and last a lifetime. The smallest and most vulnerable victims -- children."It's amazing how many believe that children are not affected by this malady," Gilmore said. "Studies continue to highlight the impact that secondary or vicarious trauma has on early development and often contributes to trauma and stressor-related disorders. The best thing any parent can do for their child when faced with a toxic relationship is leave immediately."Kendrick says helping women and their families' escape the cycle of domestic violence requires a three-pronged approach; healing, strengthening, and empowerment through a spiritual base."My heart bleeds for the women who think they somehow deserve to be abused. I imagine that they may not feel the warmth of being loved and held, cared for and protected," Kendrick said. "I think that their hearts may be embedded in disappointment and paralyzed by fear. I have dedicated myself to helping other women to realize that they deserve better. Once they believe it and decide for themselves, then they too can live in the beauty of self and learn to share that beauty with the rest of the world. I am dedicated to empowering any woman that is up for the challenge of change."Purple ribbons will be displayed across the country during the month of October as a reminder to raise awareness about this painful epidemic that effects so many people.Do not suffer in silence. If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of domestic violence, whether military or civilian, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233,