MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - October is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Prevention Month. This year, Marines on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., received out of the ordinary training and education on the topic.
Michelle Lawing, victim advocate on MCLB Barstow, explained she wanted to go into the dynamics of domestic violence prevention for training this year.
“In previous years, Marines received PowerPoints and lectures about domestic violence prevention. … They (the lectures) pretty much say, ‘don’t do it, or this will happen,’” she said. “I wanted to go into the dynamics of it. I wanted people to know why victims stay with their partners, who the perpetrators could be, and how rapid of a crime it really is.”
That being said, instead of a PowerPoint presentation, Marines here watched the "Yellow Dress" play live, performed by Denise Dean, a social worker who performs plays to teach domestic violence prevention, explained Lawing.
The play involved Dean acting as a victim and explaining her violent relationship to the audience, from beginning to end, Lawing added.
It started with how much she loved the perpetrator in the beginning of the relationship, went on to him slowly taking more and more control over her, then emotionally and physically abusing her, and ended with her death. The title, "Yellow Dress" came from the victim trying on dresses for a dance during the play. The last dress was yellow and stained with blood. It was at that point the audience realized she was telling the story as a victim posthumously.
“It (the play) went very well,” said Lawing. “There was a lot of interaction with the audience. … I think it made a big impact on them.”
Sergeant Julio Acevedo, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the administration section on MCLB Barstow, and attendee of the performance, agreed that it made a big impact on the Marines.
“At first, I was surprised we were watching a play for this year’s training,” Acevedo explained. “However, it turned out to be better training than regular (instructional methods of PowerPoints and lectures) … it had more emotion and put a face to the victim.”
Acevedo further explained it was very interesting and although the training was different, it grabbed the Marines’ attention.
“The annual training on domestic violence prevention is just as important as any other training we do as Marines,” Acevedo said. “We go to the rifle range and do MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) to stay combat ready and keep fellow Marines safe … keeping Marines aware and preventing them (from committing or becoming victims of domestic violence) is just as important.”
Lawing further explained the play was accurate in showing the early warning signs of being in an abusive relationship, such as the partner being controlling. The relationship may start good, but the perpetrator will slowly take more and more control; and they may eventually become violent.
Many people don’t realize the severity of domestic violence, or how often it happens, added the Barstow native. For example, 1 in every 4 women have been in a violent relationship at some point in their lives. And in 2012, there were more than 1,000 reported deaths related to domestic violence.
Lawing added that straight women are not the only victims. Both men and women, gay or straight, may become victims of domestic violence. She encourages people to look out for one-another.
“If you notice extreme changes in a friend or loved one, such as them becoming withdrawn, or their life becoming all about their partner, ask and do something about it,” Lawing said. “Also, keep an eye out for any bruising they may not be able to explain.”
Marines and civilian employees on MCLB Barstow are encouraged to seek help from the victim advocate immediately if they are in danger or believe someone else to be in danger. They have the option for restricted reporting, to seek counseling help without the command, or anyone besides the victim advocate knowing. Or, they can use unrestricted reporting; a full investigation will be launched and something will be done to stop any further violence or harm, concluded Lawing.