MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
According to facts provided by the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there were 70 domestic violence homicides reported in 2009, and 83 percent of those victims were killed with firearms.
Alarming facts such as these are eye-opening, but when a person is a victim of domestic violence, it can sometimes be hidden right in plain sight, surfacing only when problems escalate, exposing external and internal scars.
Domestic violence can dramatically affect a family, and it can also impact the mission readiness of the service member. To address this problem, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune's Community Counseling Center held the Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Conference 2011 Proclamation Signing Ceremony, Oct. 3. The ceremony was an all-day event, starting with the signing of the proclamation by Col. Daniel Lecce, commanding officer of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which was then followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony.
"Domestic violence is a big problem, especially among our younger families," said Lecce. "But its effects reach across all generations and it's one of those things that in the past was kept under wraps. But I think what we need to do is bring it to the forefront, publicize it and make people act on it."
A guest speaker shared her story and the challenges she faced with being the victim of domestic violence. As she spoke in front of the audience, her voice was slightly shaken, and those who watched could clearly see that it caused an emotional relapse while she shared her experience. But as her story came close to end, the light in her eyes told a story of triumph over a problem that many people in the world face.
Actors performed a dramatization to give the audience a live, up-close look at what victims may go though.
John Guard, a representative with Major Crimes Division, Pitt County Sheriff's Office in N.C., also shared stories and facts to promote awareness and offered tips on preventative steps to deal with domestic violence.
"Domestic violence cuts across every social and economic boundary, and it exists in every race group," said Guard. "It affects everybody, either directly or indirectly.
"Victims of domestic violence should be able to find help at any point," continued Guard. "There isn't one certain doorway they have to walk through to get help. It could be anyone, media, neighbors, friends or family."
The proclamation was a necessary step needed to give light to a serious matter that affects the lives of everyone around, including the mission of the military.
"The fight against domestic violence is the purpose of the event, and our mission is to make people aware so they can do something about it," said Lecce.
Brian Nohr, a victim advocate supervisor with the Community Counseling Center, Marine Corps Community Services, wants victims of domestic violence to know there are people who want to help.
"We really want to shed light on the matter and support the victims, "said Brian Nohr, a victim advocate supervisor with Community Counseling Center, MCCS. "We want to let them know that there is help available."
For the 24/7 Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Helpline, call 750-5852.