Story By: Laurie Pearson
This year, in light of the current conditions our world, country and our local communities are facing such as a pandemic and extended periods of isolation, Behavioral Health is reaching out throughout the month of October, to encourage military personnel and their families aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif.
“This year’s Domestic Violence Prevention Month theme is ‘United to End Abuse: The military community respects, defends and supports victims of domestic abuse,” said Michelle Adams, Prevention and Education specialist, and victim advocate within the Behavioral Health Department aboard base.
“Each year we focus attention on current trends we see to successfully address them in our communities. With this year focusing on being United, we are saying to any victims, survivors, their family members and anyone who needs help, that we all stand united in our efforts to recognize this issue and are here to offer support and resources to those in need.”
Despite COVID-19 protocols, the show must go on! This year for DV Prevention Month, Behavioral Health staff have planned several events to take place throughout the month. One is the very popular, month-long Purple Ribbon Hunt. The staff hides large purple ribbons around the base each week and those who return them to BH win special prizes.
“We also have a Virtual Survivor 5k Walk/Run from 1-23 October,” Adams said. “Anyone interested can register on Eventbrite at: survivor5k. eventbrite.com. You can download an app of your choosing and complete the 5k, take a screenshot of your time and post it on our Behavioral Health Facebook page or email it to: email@example.com. The first 50 to register will receive a Survivor Walk Bag which will be distributed at building 218 on October 28, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., along with the Winner Plaques and Trophies awarded to those with the three fastest times.”
This year’s guest speaker, Dominique Waltower will be a highlight during the month, as well. “Mr. Waltower is a motivational speaker, domestic violence prevention specialist and advocate who will be speaking on his own history as a child around abuse, becoming an abuser himself, and his triumph in overcoming the cycle of abuse,” Adams said. “He is now a speaker against domestic violence. His presentation will be uploaded to the MCLB Barstow, Marine Corps Community Services, and BH social media pages starting at 8:30 a.m. on October 8th, and will remain uploaded to social media through the month of October.”
Also, if you want to show off some purple gear, in support of Domestic Violence Prevention, you can wear your favorite purple fashions and accessories, take a selfie, then post it on October 16th using #UnitedToEndAbuse!
“Some additional ways military and civilian personnel and their families can support DV awareness is to be vigilant and recognize when someone is experiencing abuse and may need help,” said James Maher, BH department head. “You might even ask them if they need help. Knowing what resources are available both on and off the base is also helpful, but even just warmly handing off someone to our 24/7 Support Line or to the Family Advocacy Office will help them greatly to get the help they need.”
“If you know someone in an unhealthy relationship you can let them know that you are there to listen and offer ways to help,” Adams added. “If you know someone who may be unsafe at home, you can let them know they are not alone and help them to reach out when they are ready. Or if they, themselves, are feeling alone, unsafe or need someone to talk to, know that you have options for getting help and that we are here for you 24/7.”
Reporting of DV incidents changed with the onset of the pandemic, in surprising ways to BH staff. Recent trends show that across the Marine Corps, when the initial reports of COVID-19 hit, there was a decline in reporting during lockdown. However, reporting appears to be returning to the pre-stay-at-home order numbers Marine Corps wide.
• 10 million adults experience DV annually
• 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime
• On a typical day, DV hotlines nationwide receive over 19,000 calls • Reported teen physical dating violence affects 1 in 11 females and 1 in 15 males
• LGBTQ members also fall victim to DV at equal or even higher rates compared to their heterosexual counterparts
Domestic Violence does not discriminate. Each person, your friends, family, coworkers, and service members may experience some form of DV, or know someone who has. The effects from domestic violence can be detrimental to the mental, physical and emotional health to victims and those that are close to them, having long lasting harmful impacts.
“Together, with everyone doing their part in reporting abuse, seeking services, taking advantage of resources and becoming educated on this issue we can help break the cycle of violence in our community,” Adams said.
To help stop or prevent DV, it is important to know some of the red flags and warning signs:
• Extreme jealousy and possessiveness
• Unpredictability and a bad temper
• Cruelty to animals
• Verbal abuse
• Controlling behavior
• Forced sex with partners
• Victim blaming
• Preventing someone from attending work or school
• Accusatory language
• Demeaning the victim, embarrassment or humiliation
• Unable to handle stress appropriately – they may try to hold it in, then explode over something small and insignificant.
“It is important to note that there is no one set pattern or behavior,” Maher said. “If you are aware of or suspect violence against someone, you can save a life by reaching out and reporting it to your local FAP office or to a victim advocate by calling 760-577-6484. When we overhear or see something that doesn’t feel right, it can be hard to know how to react. If you are a witness to domestic violence, it’s important to take into account your own safety, as well as the victim’s or survivor’s.”
In an emergency situation, contact to the Marine Corps Police Department to keep all parties safe and anything recorded should be handed over to them in case there are charges pursued. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 800-799-7233 or you can live chat with an advocate at thehotline.org.
“The local Desert Sanctuary DV Program has skilled staff and support groups that serve victims in the community,” Maher said. “One doesn’t have to be residing in their shelter to be eligible for their groups. The FAP works with the Desert Sanctuary to help them be aware of the needs of military families.”
Preventing abuse in the military community starts with promoting an understanding of what safe and healthy relationships look like. The BH staff offers several opportunities for education on relationships, providing ways for individuals to learn how to set healthy boundaries and how to seek help in stressful times.
“Knowing what support is available in a crisis can often help,” Adams said. “Let the victim know that help is always available for them to take advantage of when they are ready. There are so many resources on base to get familiar with and to take part in. Marine and Family Programs has a wide range of programs and workshops that have people waiting to welcome you with open arms.”
Some of those workshops offered by the FAP include:
• Prevention and Education
• Anger Management
• Married and Loving It
• Within My Reach
• Stress Management
• New Parent Support
There are many ways to participate, throughout the month of October and throughout the year. To stay current on BH events or to get additional information, call 760-577-6533, or check out our Facebook page and website at: