NEWPORT, R.I. – Center for Service Support sailors and civilian employees observed Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Oct. 7.
The concept of Domestic Violence Awareness Month began as a "Day of Unity" in October 1981, and soon after evolved into an entire week. In 1987 the first monthly observance took place. Two years later, Congress passed a law officially designating October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Activities during this month vary from base to base, but the common theme is to mourn those who have died at the hands of their intimate partners and to celebrate those who have survived. This year’s theme is ‘Silence hides violence.’
“Sailors are not always comfortable, or always aware of what they should do, but many families are affected by this issue,” said Command Master Chief (SW/SCW/AW) Ray Rosado. “Campaigns and training are the most effective way to get the message out. You must show people powerful visuals that provoke an emotion and gives bystanders a reason to help stop these crimes.”
Rosado said sailors and civilian employees are encouraged to participate in projects and events being conducted at Naval Station Newport (NWPT) and throughout local communities.
“Projects and events allow sailors to express their creativity and give their own unique messages of hope,” said Rosado. “These efforts will help garner interest in stopping domestic violence. It’s important for both our sailors and civilians to understand the initiatives on bases and in the community, particularly the Silent Witness Program.”
The Silent Witness Program features silhouette cutouts, which represent real-life cases of individuals who lost their lives violently at the hands of their spouses or domestic partners. They can be seen throughout local communities as well as Naval installations.
“Our local communities and bases honor their memory by displaying wooden figures, each figure displaying some factual information about domestic violence and the phone numbers of locations on the base and throughout the community where help is available,” said Rosado. “The message we hope to convey is that if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, either physical, or emotional, help is a call or e-mail away. We must educate our sailors about the detriments of domestic violence and how it degrades mission readiness.”
Chief Personnel Specialist (SW/AW) Roger Drumheller, CSS Victim Assistance Program (VWAP) manager said sailors who are victims of domestic abuse should enroll in VWAP.
VWAP assists victims and witnesses with their legal rights under military and civilian law. Additionally, the program helps victims through the recovery process after suffering a criminal action.
“The Navy provides VWAP rights to victims and witnesses in cases where the offender is a sailor and their misconduct is going to be handled by the Navy,” said Drumheller. “Typically, civilian prosecutors provide victim assistance if the offender is being prosecuted in the civilian courts; oftentimes the Navy remains involved if the victim is a sailor or involves a family member.”
“The program encourages victims and witnesses to be forthright and participate in the military justice process," said Drumheller. “It lets them know there are a lot of resources available such as medical treatment, and counseling. They are not alone in this process. We are here to help.”
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