News: Domestic violence awareness comes aboard station
Story by Alissa Schuning
IWAKUNI, Japan - October may be best known for ghosts, ghouls, and gore, but it is also Domestic Violence Awareness month. While people practice domestic violence prevention and awareness throughout the year, it is more apparent in October.
The Family Advocacy Program aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, the Family Advocacy Program is doing their best to make station residents aware of domestic violence, said Michelle Northam, a victim advocate and prevention specialist with Marine and Family Programs.
“The thing that concerns me most here is that coming to Japan gives people the prime opportunity to isolate someone,” said Northam. “A person gets pulled away from their friends and family and can feel like they have nobody here.”
That feeling of being alone is exactly why victim advocates are available, said Northam. Victim advocates give people the opportunity to inform an advocate of any violence via a restricted or unrestricted report.
“If there is a situation with domestic violence, as a victim advocate, I can walk with that person through the whole process, like reporting, going with them to law enforcement, sit with them through questioning and all of that stuff,” said Northam.
According to Northam, victims of domestic violence, especially military spouses, are hesitant to report it because they don’t want to lose the financial security the service member provides.
“The Marine Corps offers families transitional compensation, if the servicemember is convicted,” said Northam. “Transitional compensation is given for a minimum of a year and up to three years, based on the time the military member has left in their enlistment.”
Northam said that some of the reasons victims stay in an abusive relationship for years is because they have nowhere to go and that’s why transitional compensation is put in place.
Marine Corps Community Services offered a self-defense class to station residents at IronWorks Gym on Oct. 10, 2013, in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Station residents attended the class to learn simple, but effective, techniques they can use on an attacker if necessary.
“I feel more confident in my ability to defend myself if I end up in a situation where it’s needed,” said Kori Brown, new-parent-support home visitor with MCCS.
Brown said she attended the class to learn how to correctly perform self-defense techniques and become proficient at them.
Staff Sgt. Neil Seip, hazardous material staff noncommissioned officer in charge, and Staff Sgt. Thomas Grygowski, maintenance controller, who are both black belt instructors in Marine Corps Martial Arts Program with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, taught the class.
The instructors taught lower-level MCMAP moves, intended to manipulate larger opponents.
Although domestic violence can be a physical act of abuse against a significant other, that is not always the case.
“A lot of times, domestic violence is an escalation,” said Northam. “It starts out with a little insult here, a little humiliation there and then it starts to escalate and gets worse.”
According to Northam, domestic violence awareness is important to promote so that possible victims can recognize the signs before it reaches a physical level.
“Domestic violence awareness is more about prevention,” said Northam. “We want to stop it before it starts.”