Creating a climate that does not condone domestic violence
White Sands Missile Range had a “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” event on Oct. 6 at Sgt. Pedro Field in support of Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. This month’s theme is “United to End Domestic Abuse.” (Photo Credit: Miriam Rodriguez, White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. (Oct. 8, 2021) – In support of Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, White Sands Missile Range had a “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” event on Oct. 6. Participants were encouraged to wear their significant others’ shoes while walking the mile, demonstrating the community’s efforts to stand “United to End Domestic Abuse.”

Family violence does not happen independently. There are usually other factors affecting a family, and as the situation escalates, so can the risks of abuse. The impact of family violence trickles out into the community whether it affects families, mission readiness, friends, co-workers, schools, or the medical system.

Within the Army Community Services (ACS), the Family Advocacy Program is dedicated to preventing domestic abuse. Cynthia Valenzuela, who manages the program at White Sands Missile Range, says she needs everyone to be united in preventing domestic violence because one person or program can't do it alone. It takes a community. That is why she works closely with different organizations around the installation and with several of the programs offered by ACS to help families in need of support.

“I work with the Army Substance Abuse Program, the McAfee Health Clinic, the Chaplain, Army Emergency Relief, Employment Readiness, and so many others who support families. Each one of these offices assists within the different types of components that would put a stressor on a family unit, like those who have money problems or a parent who may be dealing with a substance abuse issue,” said Valenzuela. “We are united in making sure that we have eyes on what is going on in our community, and we have eyes on those who are at risk. We are also aware of all the resources available to protect these families.”

Together the WSMR community can create a climate that does not condone family violence and support our workforce and their families by connecting them with many valuable resources such as psychoeducation and treatment.  To create a such a climate, there are a few steps that one needs to take. Think about what you can do to prevent violence and what you can do to help victims. Make it known to the people around you that you do not tolerate violence or abuse.

“What can we do to limit the barriers for victims?” said Valenzuela. “We need to create the climate within ourselves that violence and abuse are not tolerated, and it needs to spread beyond us as individuals and into our social groups.”

To help someone that may be going through a challenging family situation, keep the following tips in mind. Know what the community has to offer and resources available to those reaching out for help. Become trauma-informed and learn why a victim may react the way they do or what kind of signs and behaviors they may exhibit. Believe someone if they say they are being abused, take their accusations seriously. Even if you know the accused abuser, do not let your judgment of that person stand in the way of helping someone.

“Be mindful around people. Abuse victims will drop tidbits of knowledge that may seem off-hand or out of the norm for them about their abuser. It is all in how you react to these bits of information they share. If you react unfavorably, they will not divulge anything else and may not trust you anymore,” said Valenzuela. “Remain calm and supportive with this person. Please do not give them ultimatums, thinking it will make them leave their abuser. It can make the victim feel even more powerless.”

Valenzuela explained that leaving an abuser takes time. It is essential to do it in the safest manner possible because a victim is most at risk while attempting to leave their home.

Individuals can seek help at the Family Advocacy Program within the ACS building or call 575-678-2018.

WSMR Domestic Violence 24/7 Hotline: 575-993-7413

La Casa, the Las Cruces Domestic Violence Shelter: 575-526-2819