By Ms. Elyssa Vondra (Fort Jackson)October 4, 2018
Fort Jackson shed light on domestic violence during a candelight vigil Oct. 2 at the Main Post Chapel.
The guest speaker was Stacia McFadden, a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. As a teenager, she witnessed her father beat her mother to the brink of death.
She led the battle cry as voices of the community united in a stand against domestic violence.
This marks the second year Fort Jackson has hosted the ceremony as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
DVAM was developed out of the 1981 "Day of Unity." Its intent is to celebrate survivors of domestic
violence, to mourn domestic violence-related deaths, and to stop the cycle of violence.
"Domestic violence is still an issue," said Kamala Henley of Army Community Service.
Creating recognition is what McFadden does every day.
McFadden trains survivors to move on with their lives and "inspires change by removing the silence,"
Henley said. She teaches survivors how to "live beyond the tragedy."
"It's not just the punches; it's not just the black eyes," McFadden said Tuesday. Domestic abuse is the yelling, constant name-calling and stalking that is sometimes less visible. She advocates for individuals with varying situations -- including backgrounds of cyber bullying, rape, victim blaming and more.
"Today I'm not training," McFadden said Oct. 2. Instead, she shared her story.
When she was 15, her life was forever changed when she helped prevent her father from killing her mother.
Although before that McFadden had been beaten by her mom -- sometimes with the metal end of a fly swatter and put in the bathtub with alcohol to fester -- she said she was "oblivious" to domestic
violence until that day.
McFadden's father, in one of his frequent, unsubstantiated jealous tirades "let (his wife) have it," Mc-
Fadden said. "He used language I wouldn't dare use in church."
He beat her with his fists, the crutches she was using to recover from a recent knee surgery, and even the butt of a pistol.
McFadden, sitting in the next room, heard it all.
She tried to stop him, yelling at the top of her lungs.
He silenced her with a death threat, pointing the loaded gun at her.
"I ran for my life," McFadden said. She called the police. They eventually ended the hostage situation
and saved her mom.
McFadden's mother refused to press charges.
"We lived in total secrecy," McFadden said. They first stayed with a relative, and later in a Delaware women's shelter.
Her father had a long history of domestic violence charges leading up to that day.
It all started when he was around 20. He raped and impregnated a neighbor, according to McFadden.
She said his motto was, "When a woman says no, she really means yes."
The pattern continued into his married life when he acted obsessive, controlling and possessive over the woman who birthed seven of his children.
Once, he beat her "within an inch of her life," McFadden said.
The woman abandoned six of her kids -- only keeping the infant -- at a bus stop, McFadden said. The situation was that desperate.
His next wife was "confronted with a screwdriver." He accused her, too, of countless affairs.
He requested she drop the charges for his crime. When she wouldn't, he stabbed her repeatedly with a knife in the courtroom, McFadden said.
He served just two years and three months for the offense, McFadden said. The woman "blamed herself" and waited for him.
The cycle of women taking him back was repeated. Even McFadden's mom reconciled with him several years after running away.
One of McFadden's goals became understanding why women make this choice and empowering them to leave dangerous situations.
Now she teaches the appropriate responses to domestic violence.
It's important to listen without judgment to the stories of those suffering. Provide them with some assurances: it's not their fault, their story is believed, and they didn't deserve the treatment, McFadden advised.
If a situation is ongoing, call the police, she added.
If confronting a potential abuser, it's pivotal to pick the right time and place, be open and frank, express concern for the suspected victim, and let the individual know that they're responsible
for their actions.
McFadden hopes to make it known that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. She aspires to "remove the shame" from survivors and "hold perpetrators accountable."
"You can have a bad childhood and still have a good life," she said. Moving on from trauma is possible.