October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

14 Oct 2010 | Marine Cpl. Jessica L. Martinez

One in four women and one in nine men in the United States are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives. With the ongoing problem of domestic violence around the globe, campaigns are kicked off every October to raise the public’s awareness of domestic violence.

Domestic violence affects everyone and should be a worldwide concern. It affects women, men and children. It can happen to anyone of any race, sexual orientation, gender or religion, and it doesn’t matter what a person’s economic or educational status is.

“Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner,” as stated by the National Domestic Violence Hotline website. “Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.”

Joele Phillips, an education and intervention specialist with the Counseling Service Branch, Marine and Family Services, Marine Corps Community Services, aboard Marine

Corps Base Camp Lejeune, said someone who is a domestic abuser could display the following characteristics: be a manipulator or charmer; the individual may have witnessed or suffered abuse as a child; crave power; have rigid traditional beliefs; be jealous or possessive; blame the victim and others for the abuse or have alcohol or abuse problems.

Characteristics a victim of domestic violence may display could be the following: low self-esteem; have a family history of abuse; feels responsible as though it is their fault; financial dependency; believes no one can help; feels isolated and hopeless or hopes for a change, said Gayloyce Willis, an education and intervention specialist with the Counseling Service Branch.

An abuser may use economics, isolation and extreme jealousy, blaming, sexual abuse and children as a way to control the victim. Abusers may also take the victims identification cards, ATM cards and other important documents to have power and control.

While the root of domestic violence stems from someone ultimately wanting power or control, alcohol or substance abuse, anger problems and financial issues can add to the problem, said Suzanne Wilber, executive director of the Onslow Women’s Center, in Jacksonville.

“The types of abuse look different for every situation and there are no boundaries to domestic violence,” said Wilber. “It doesn’t matter how good a person may seem or how ‘stellar’ they appear in the community or at their job, there are always two faces to people, so any one can be a perpetrator.”

Anyone who has been a victim of or knows someone who has been a victim of domestic violence should report it. Base Order 1754.1B states that Department of Defense personnel, both active duty and civilian, have a responsibility to report child and spousal abuse and maltreatment.

Phillips said service members should first contact a victim advocate, uniformed victim advocate, counselor, medical personnel or chaplain. Afterward, there is one of two ways they can report the crime.

Restrictive reporting, allows victims to report they’ve been abused without giving the name of the abuser. No investigation is conducted and the victim can receive all the counseling and help they need.

Unrestrictive reporting, allows the victim to give the name of the abuser, and then there is an investigation. The victim will still receive the proper counseling and help they need.

There are many services available for those who have been victims of domestic violence.  Some of these services include: legal help, counseling, support groups, safe houses, services for children, employment and health-related programs, educational opportunities and financial assistance.

“If people are aware of the services available, then they can get help early before it becomes a situation where police need to get involved,” said Phillips. “By spreading the word about domestic violence, giving people information and answering their questions, we are hoping to reduce the number of incidents of domestic violence.”

Wilber said one way to help prevent domestic violence is to talk to children about it early on.

“We have kids programs for middle and high school students to educate them on domestic violence,” said Wilber. “If nothing changes when the children are younger, then when they grow up, the cycle of domestic abuse will continue.”

For more information about domestic violence awareness or where to turn to for help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, visit their website or visit the Domestic Violence Resource Center at

For help on base and in the local community, call the Onslow Women’s Center at 347-4000, the Counseling Services Branch at 451-2864 or visit