MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Purple ribbons twist on white banners surrounding the Lejeune Monument traffic circle marking Camp Lejeune’s observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month beginning in October.
In 2005 there were 186 substantiated incidents of domestic violence involving Marine families here, and nationwide a case of domestic violence is reported to authorities every 15 seconds. It's estimated those only represent 10 percent of the violence that actually takes place, said Navy Cmdr. Marilyn Marie Brooks, Family Advocacy Program manager and branch head of the Community Counseling Center.
Marine Corps administrative message 140/06 defines domestic violence as an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or state law, that involves the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force or violence against a person of the opposite sex, or a violation of a lawful order issued for the protection of a person of the opposite sex.
This includes a current or former spouse; a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common; or a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common residence.
“We have strict rules and definitions of domestic violence to ensure the safety of the victim and the family, but raising awareness about things like how to recognize the risk factors, why people do not seek help and how the command can help prevent it is the goal of the campaign,” said Brooks.
Brooks further explains that some common risk factors for Marines stem from deployment, living with unresolved and chronic marital conflict, social isolation or lack of social support, witnessing domestic violence as a child, substance abuse and financial problems.
Abusers and the victims of violence may often avoid seeking help, fearing negative career consequences, peer group ridicule, escalating abuse especially if outside agencies or supervisors become involved, not being believed or supported by supervisor or command, denial of the problem or minimization of the abuse as ‘normal’ or ‘not that bad’, reporting may result in loss of children, partner or status, little confidence in advocacy or helping services to make a difference or to provide safety and sheer embarrassment, according to Marine Corps Community Services, “Leaders Guide for Managing Marines in Distress.”
“The command can make all the difference in the prevention of domestic violence,” said Brooks.
Prevention starts by ensuring that all unit leaders and supervisors are trained in recognizing domestic violence and knowing how to access available services, encouraging and allowing time for Marines and their families to participate in prevention programs, placing informational and educational brochures in common areas that are easily accessible and by bring MCCS speakers to the unit to provide information on maintaining healthy relationships, said Brooks.
“Increasing awareness leads to education and possibly a means to an end of this problem and this campaign is a good local start,” concluded Brooks.
"The launch of the campaign is another in a series of initiatives undertaken by the Department of Defense during the past two years to strengthen its response to domestic violence. In addition to launching this public-awareness campaign, we have worked closely with the Congress to update and revise key legislation, issued numerous domestic violence policies, engaged in domestic violence coordinated community response demonstration projects, and sponsored numerous domestic violence training conferences for more than 1,000 military and civilian personnel. The rollout of this important campaign signals our commitment to keeping up this aggressive pace,” said Dr. David S.C. Chu, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.
First observed in October 1987, the Domestic Violence Awareness Month was created by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence with the intent to “connect battered women’s advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children,” according to the NCADV web site http://www.ncadv.org.
For more information about domestic violence, the Community Counseling Center is located on building 41 and open 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and their phone number is 451-2864. The National Domestic Violence Hotline phone number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). For emergencies, the base Provosts Marshals number is 451-2555.