By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)November 6, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany - If only it were that simple.
Gather a hundred or so concerned individuals and send them out with candles and good intentions for an evening walk through a local housing area to stop the increasingly growing instances of domestic violence.
At least it's a start, according to all those who dedicated their time to focus on raising domestic violence awareness during the "Take Back the Night" candlelight walk Oct. 25.
"Quite frankly, this is one event which I wish we wouldn't have to recognize," said Col. David Carstens, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander. "This is one speech that I wish I didn't have to give. The fact that we, as members of the military community, would turn on our own, inside our own families, is a tragedy of the greatest proportion."
But statistics don't lie, Carstens said, stressing that there has been an upward trend in substantiated cases of domestic abuse in the Army and the Wiesbaden military community.
"I personally experience this personal tragedy monthly when I sit down with a group of community experts to review individual cases that include domestic abuse, and I am saddened and sickened that in a community that offers so much help to service members and their families, that many choose violence as the only way out to express their anger and frustration," he said.
Citing the millions of people who will be abused nationwide by intimate partners, the scores of young people who report threats of violence in relationships, the millions of days of productive work lost due to domestic violence and the overall spirit-crushing effects of this ongoing epidemic, speakers called on everyone to take a stand, to speak out when experiencing or witnessing it and to seek help for those in need.
Guest speaker Roxanne Brown brought the subject home to listeners at the Wiesbaden Community Spouses Club and Army Community Service-sponsored event by sharing her personal experiences of abuse from her first marriage.
"In 1995 it started with a slap," Brown said. "My husband was unemployed and unhappy."
That slap and verbal abuse eventually turned into further physical violence.
"When my child was eight weeks old I knew I had to leave."
Having not reported the violence until the physical signs were almost gone, Brown said she feared that if she left her husband, she would lose her child. "My biggest fear was losing my child because I had walked out on an abusive relationship."
Now happily remarried with a supportive husband, Brown said she never witnessed any remorse or received an apology from her ex-husband.
Speaking out against violence and encouraging individuals in hurtful relationships to seek help is critical, she said. "Violence creates and encourages fears. … We take back the night tonight to show violence in any form is intolerable."
"If you leave here this evening with only one thought it should be that everyone standing here can make a difference," said Carstens. "Whether you are a victim, neighbor, bystander, leader - open your eyes and ears. Speak up. Don't take the easy road and look away. Don't turn your back on domestic violence."
Saying that some of the "deepest wounds of domestic violence" will never be visible to others, Michelle Stosich, Family Advocacy Program manager, said that's all the more reason why friends, coworkers, relatives and all those who care need to be open and available to listen and help. People do that by recognizing the warning signs, seeking help or encouraging others to do so and taking an active role in reporting abuse.
For more information or to find help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call the Domestic Violence Response Hotline at civ (01622) 975 625.