MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Picture this: Two Military Policemen respond to a call from neighbors concerning loud arguing and noises coming from the home of a Marine. After accessing the situation, the MPs take the Marine into custody on charges of domestic violence. The servicemember allegedly struck his wife during an argument that ensued over their finances.
Although the scenario stated is not true, the situation has occurred in the past and continues to occur again and again.
"Domestic violence is a crime that is committed more than most people would like to believe," said Barbara Miller, a base social counselor specializing in the prevention and education of domestic violence. "The military is an institution that at times has very efficient systems that can be used to identify problem areas in the early stages, and domestic violence is one of those areas."
The Marine Corps Community Services provides education and counseling services, as well as workshops to individuals and families seeking self-improvement.
According to a brochure provided by the counseling center, a woman is beaten by her partner every 15 seconds. One-fifth to one-third of women will be physically abused by a partner or ex-partner sometime in their lives.
"Domestic violence is the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force or violence against a person of the opposite sex," said Miller. "It's a violation of a lawful order issued for the protection of a person of the opposite sex who is a current or former spouse, a person with whom the abuser shares a child with, or a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser lives or has lived with."
There are three stages to an abusive pattern. The first stage is the tension-building phase where the abuser becomes irrational, possessive and abusive, while the abused represses anger to keep the peace.
Phase two is when the battering occurs, and in stage three the abuser is loving, ashamed, and promises never to do it again, so the abused forgives them.
"Domestic violence is not always just hitting your partner though," said Miller. "Domestic violence can be as simple as hitting a wall out of frustration; it's not always as innocent as people think. There is no simple disagreement between couples."
One component of MCCS is the Counseling and Advocacy Program. The program has a highly-qualified licensed clinical staff which is trained in family violence and are available to provide counseling services on request. Counselors are available to respond quickly, 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week to help individuals and families who are the victims of domestic violence or sexual assaults.
Counselors can help families through domestic violence support groups and individual, couple and family counseling.
"Knowledge of the laws and orders on and off base is important," said Miller. "We want to help servicemembers work through problems the right way, before it's too late."
For more information on the prevention and education of domestic violence, contact the Community Counseling Center at 451-2864/2876.