The house sits quietly when suddenly a commotion rings out. Shouts and cries pierce the walls of the adjoining residence, but the couple watching television say nothing. After all, who are they to come in between another couple’s spat?
Conflicts are normal in relationships. However, lines are crossed every day potentially leading to disastrous consequences. Domestic violence leads to the murder of more than three women and one man in the United States every day, according to the Domestic Violence Resource Center.
Aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune there are many resources and options available to victims, whether they are service members or are dating, married or engaged to a service member. However, an important part of the equation is getting help and support, and a bystander can make a difference by speaking up.
Domestic violence happens in secret, behind closed doors, said Daphne Knight, a clinical supervisor at the Community Counseling Center aboard MCB Camp Lejeune. While many altercations are normal, there are many distinctions between a healthy and an abusive relationship.
Name calling, threats, intimidation, controlling behavior, isolation, jealousy, hypersensitivity and explosive behavior are markers of an unhealthy relationship pointing to abuse. Healthy relationships feature respect, trust, support and nonthreatening behavior.
“It’s okay to be angry at one another, but it’s not okay to cross the line to abuse,” said Knight. “Most people understand a bruise or being hit is domestic violence, but it’s important to understand name calling and put-downs keep people down.”
Jennifer Prince, the behavioral health program manager for Marine and Family Programs aboard the base, said once the line of domestic violence is crossed, the offender cannot take it back.
There are options available to get help. A victim can file a restricted report with a victim advocate to maintain confidentiality while receiving help. If the abuse is reported to anybody else, the only option available is an unrestricted report, which offers all of the same help along with law enforcement and command involvement.
“The majority of victims don’t want to get their spouse in trouble,” said Knight. “They just want the abuse to stop.”
Domestic violence does not go away on its own, Knight added. Some form of intervention is needed to end it.
A neighbor or a friend can be a listening ear, provide support to a victim and inform them of available resources. If one suspects a potentially violent situation is taking place, they should err on the side of caution, said Knight.
“We all have a right to intervene,” said Prince. “We all have a responsibility to take action when something like domestic violence is brought to our attention. If any Marine or Department of Defense employee suspects abuse, they are obligated by Marine Corps order to report it. Whether its child, spouse, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, it has to be reported to the Family Advocacy Program.”
Abuse can affect anybody of any rank or background. Victim advocates are available to lead victims through the maze to recovery and safety.
“Love isn’t supposed to hurt,” said Prince. “You don’t have to tolerate abuse. You can do something about it by seeking help.”
MCB Camp Lejeune’s Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24 hours, 7 days a week at 750-5852.