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Fairchild raises awareness for domestic violence

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Michael Means)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Michael Means)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE-Wash. -- During the month of October, Team Fairchild will be raising awareness about domestic violence.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, this month was first observed in 1987 and, in 1989, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress.

"Domestic violence doesn't just refer to physical abuse," said Janet Bunn, 92nd Medical Group Domestic Abuse Victim advocate. "Verbal and emotional abuse usually come first and escalate into something much worse."

The NCADV also reported that one in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

"It's important to know victims are not always women," Bunn said. "Men are victims as well and tend to have a harder time coming forward because socialization of the male gender demands strength and being abused is perceived weakness."

Domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes in the nation, the NCADV states.

Bunn said many victims are unsure of their abuse and are afraid coming forward would put their partner's career in jeopardy, or worse, when in fact, Family Advocacy is not punitive at all in these cases. They are there to get individuals the help and guidance they need.

"We focus on fixing the problem rather than making punishment the priority," Bunn said. "We are here to help."

Several events are being held to represent this month and bring to light the services available on base for those affected by such violence.

Some of the events around base during this month include:

· Signing of the proclamation at the Wing commander's office Oct. 1 at 1:30 p.m.

· The Silent Witness Project: true stories from victims posted around base all month

· Enlisted mentoring for the 92nd Medical Group at the base theatre Oct. 16 at 3:30 p.m.

· Purple lights will shine on building 2285 for the month

· Purple ribbons and traveling signs will also be posted around base to raise awareness

"Many victims have a consistent feeling of fault," said Ruth Sunde, Family Advocacy Program Outreach manager. "All it takes is coming forward one time to give them strength and empowerment to get the help they need."

Active-duty personnel, Department of Defense civilians and contractors are all mandated reporters of any such abuse according to Air Force Instruction 40-301.

"I am on call 24/7," said Bunn. "I encourage victims to come to me first and then we can visit the other helping agencies together."

Chaplains and mental health providers are also outlets for reporting any abuse. Then they will have the choice of a restricted report or an unrestricted report.

A restricted report is granted by the Family Advocacy Officer, Capt Veronica Smith. The victim will choose their own path forward and the DAVA helps pull in resources as they work through the problem. Disclosure of abuse to Chaplains and medical health providers are also confidential and are referred to the DAVA.

Bringing light to this month has opened several cases in the past and Bunn hopes that it will help victims realize they are not alone.

For more information contact the Family Advocacy Program at 509-247-2687 or the DAVA anytime at 509-481-9025. Other resources are listed below:

· 24-hour hotline: 509-481-9025

· Mental health: 509-247-2361

· Security forces: 509-247-5493

· Emergency shelter YMCA of Spokane: 509-789-9297; Crisis line: 509-326-2255

· Wash. State Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 1-800-562-6025

· National domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE

· Child protective services intake line: 509-363-3333; After hours: 1-800-562-5624

· Military One Source: 1-800-342-9647