By Kari Sharpe, USAG Bavaria ACS Family Advocacy ProgramOctober 2, 2019
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Domestic Violence is a significant societal problem -- impacting individuals in the military, the United States and the World. We hear the statistics and disturbing numbers regularly at mandatory training events, and every October as the Army joins the rest of our nation in recognizing the battle to end it.
Thankfully, however, many of us are not living with domestic violence. For those of us so fortunate, why do we need to keep hearing, thinking or talking about it? We know to call the Military Police if we have to report potential violence, and we've heard about the resources that are available in case we need to share it with a friend or loved one. What else can we do?
This month specifically, you can challenge yourself, your friends and your family members to consider three strategies as means of helping to prevent domestic violence:
1. ROLE MODEL YOUR VALUES: As an individual member of a community, our opinions and actions send a message to those around us, and contribute to community norms about what is or is not acceptable behavior. Consider what your message is. Is it about respect and empowerment? Is it about intervening when you see potential for harm?
2. DESTIGMATIZE SEEKING HELP: Typically many factors contribute to domestic violence, for both the offender and the victim. There are resources available to us all to reduce the likelihood that we could be involved in violence. Whether they be mental health support, substance abuse treatment, anger management tools, stress reduction resources or means to enhance your relationships. Do you have the courage to be open that you have needed help at one time in your life?
3. EMPOWER OUR YOUTH: Children learn from the adults around them. They form ideas and opinions about their own self-worth, about boundaries and about how they should expect to be treated. If they don't receive strong and positive messages that build their self-esteem and encourage a healthy identity, they may become adults who are vulnerable to being victimized. Do you treat the youth in your life with the respect they deserve? Do you remind them that they have the power to determine how they want to be treated?
This month, USAG Bavaria Army Community Service's Family Advocacy Program will host a variety of workshops in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in addition to an information campaign. Educational opportunities include bystander training, book clubs, communication enhancement, marriage and family workshops, and several topics related to mindfulness and resilience. Find activities taking place in your community at https://bavaria.armymwr.com/, by calling your local ACS or by going directly to https://acsbavaria.checkappointments.com to register. You can also look for outreach tables and displays around the installation during the entire month of October.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, remember that a Victim Advocate is available 24 hours a day at 0162-2960661 to provide confidential assistance, including emotional support, development of a safety plan, crisis intervention and accurate information regarding your legal rights.