News: Domestic violence: serious business
Story by Sgt. Bailey Kramer
FORT HOOD, Texas – Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under-reported crimes according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Of those who do report their attack, less than one-fifth of victims seek medical attention.
In October 1981, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence organized a “Day of Unity.” Eight years later, Congress passed a bill designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“I think it is important to keep people aware of what is out there to help people in these situations,” said Fullerton, Calif., native Capt. James MacDonald, the behavioral health officer for the 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
Domestic violence is defined as physical, emotional or sexual abuse used to control a significant other, married or not.
MacDonald believes the main reason people do not report their attacks is because they are afraid of their attacker.
“Fear of reprisal,” MacDonald explained. “They are afraid of what will happen to them or their children.”
The Ironhorse chaplain, Capt. Marshall Coen, agrees but believes there are two other reasons victims do not come forward.
“They are afraid things will only get worse, they don’t have anyone to trust, or in the long run it will only hurt their family even more,” Coen added.
MacDonald said the best way to prevent domestic abuse is awareness and to always have your eyes and ears open.
“It’s possible anybody might run into it,” MacDonald said. “Just by talking to a friend and finding out there is something going on at home. You just have to pay attention.”
Victims of abuse may experience manipulation, yelling, shame, public humiliation and control of finances.
“The signs of a problem vary by the resiliency of a person,” said Coen.
Fort Hood, Texas, offers a program for victims known as the Family Advocacy Program, while Killeen, Texas, has many safe havens for individuals to escape to.
“I believe people fear if they tell on their (significant other) they won’t be able to care for their children or themselves,” MacDonald added.
MacDonald said he knows it can sometimes take awhile for people to realize something is wrong.
“People sometimes don’t understand (it’s) not what is suppose to happen,” MacDonald added. “They just think it’s part of a normal relationship.”
Although it is important to be aware of possible warning signs and to try and help your friends and family in their time of need, a person may not believe there is a problem.
“Sometimes hearing enough people say, ‘This is not right, help is out there,’ is all it takes to finally realize there is something wrong,” MacDonald added.
Coen says although domestic violence is an ongoing problem he believes it is because couples don’t know how to communicate.
“There is help,” MacDonald said encouraging victims to reach out.
If you feel you are a victim of domestic violence or know someone who needs help contact the Family Advocacy Program on Fort Hood at (254)-286-6773 or call the hotline at 1 (800)-799-SAFE (7233).