By Ms. Brittany Carlson, Belvoir EagleOctober 4, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, VA (Oct. 4)--Today's military communities have an internal enemy that threatens the force, and destroys Families, that enemy is domestic violence.
Since 2006, the number of military calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline has more than tripled, according to the NDVH. In the past year alone, military calls increased by more than 25 percent.
However, domestic violence is preventable and resolvable, said Reon Brogan, victim advocate with the Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program on Fort Belvoir.
This month, in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, she and the FAP staff are providing information to the community on the warning signs and triggers of domestic violence and highlighting ACS programs that can help combat this crime on the home front.
Domestic violence offenders are known to isolate victims from others and try to control them, Brogan said.
"It's all about control," she said. "The offender may want to try and keep you away, where you can't necessarily talk to other people about needing help. That leads you, again, back to isolation, and that isolation leads to hopelessness."
Eventually, this leads to physical violence.
"Nine times out of 10, if they hit you once, they'll hit you again. Then you go through the honeymoon cycle where they say 'I'm sorry,'" Brogan said.
"A lot of times, people will just sit and go through that vicious cycle over and over and over again," she added. "We want to educate and try and help them prevent that from happening."
There are many services available at ACS for victims, the foremost of which is the FAP Victim Advocate program. Victim advocates are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At Fort Belvoir, the victim advocate phone number is (703) 805-1832 during business hours, and the after-hours (24/7) hotline phone number is (703) 229-2374. In an emergency situation, victims should first call 911.
"I provide non-clinical advocacy services and support to Soldiers and Family members experiencing domestic abuse. As the (victim advocate), I am here to help, not to judge or criticize," Brogan said.
Victim advocates provide crisis intervention and non-clinical support; safety assessment and planning; coordination of emergency services, such as transportation, housing and food; assistance with obtaining protective orders; accompaniment throughout the medical, investigative and legal processes; representation of victim's interests at Family Advocacy Case Review Committee meetings, and information and referral.
There are also ACS programs and classes that can help Families deal with triggers of domestic violence, such as financial stress or parenting stress.
"All of the ACS programs help Families prevent domestic violence by providing services that may prevent Family stress," said Sonja Foots, ACS New Parent Support Program home visitor.
Parenting support and child abuse prevention classes include "Love and Logic Parenting," which demonstrates to parents how they can educate using consequences and personal responsibility, and "Loving Our Children," a program designed to help parents discipline children with alternative methods to spanking.
Other upcoming classes at Fort Belvoir ACS include:
"ScreamFree Parenting Workshop" Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 and 8 (three-part series) from 5:30-7:30 p.m., designed to help parents stay calm and connected with their children.
"New Parent Support Program" for expectant Families with children ages 3 and younger, in which a visitor provides education and support
There is also a general "Stress Management" class Nov. 6 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
"These programs provide community-based education that promotes wellness for everyone and enhance healthy individuals, couples and Family functioning," Foots said.
The ACS Financial Readiness Program also offers a variety of classes and services for ID cardholders to help save money and prevent financial stress, which in turn can lead to domestic violence.
"Money is a large factor in Family dynamics at home," said Erica Drame, Fort Belvoir FRP manager. "All of the classes offered by FRP will ensure our Families have the most current financial information, tools and resources available for them to make the best decisions concerning managing their finances, which in turn helps to lower the tension in the home regarding any mismanagement of funds, due to frivolous spending."
Upcoming financial readiness classes at ACS include:
"First-Termers Money Management" Oct. 11 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"Dollars and Sense" Oct. 17 from 1-4 p.m.
"Basics of Investing" Oct. 23 from 1-3 p.m.
"Car Buying and Leasing" Oct. 25 from noon to 1 p.m.
In the classes, Drame discusses budget development, financial planning, and communication.
"When a Family is on the same page with their money and are able to handle their money well, this allows the Family to spend their money more responsibly. Plus, it helps with having more discretionary income once all living expenses and debts have been paid, so the Family can have more money for the future," Drame said.
In teaching the triggers and warning signs of domestic violence, along with advertising these free classes, Brogan hopes military Families on Fort Belvoir will not only gain information, but use it to get the help they need, or help others.
"The whole key is prevention through education. Whether it's through parenting classes or stress management, we just want them to know that the classes are available," Brogan said. "Our hope and goal is that it would help fight this -- help prevent domestic violence."
For more information, call ACS at (703) 805-4590, or visit www.belvoirmwr.com/Facilities/ACS.
Editor's Note: This is the second installment in a three-part series on domestic violence.