JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
Nearly two dozen volunteers dispersed throughout Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas on Oct. 26 with faux black eyes to spread awareness of domestic violence.
The volunteers participated in the Black Eye Campaign as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which has been observed in October since its official designation in 1981.
“The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness for domestic violence,” said Craig Hodge-Young, domestic abuse victim advocate in the Family Advocacy Program office.
Among the main goals of the Family Advocacy Program is helping military and civilian members understand the signs of healthy, unhealthy and controlling behaviors and learn ways to improve relationships — through information, skill-building resources, counseling and support.
The Black Eye Campaign is one tool the FAP office used to help build awareness of the signs of possible domestic violence in conjunction with the 2018 Domestic Violence Prevention Month campaign, “Know the Signs”.
The campaign focus is to reach people as early in the relationship lifecycle as possible, invite them to think about their relationship, and consider whether it could be classified as healthy, unhealthy or abusive.
“I wanted people to ask me questions and make comments about my face. I wanted them to just ask and see if I’m okay,” said Airman 1st Class Victoria White, Pediatric Clinic team member. “It’s hard for people to speak up, but it’s important to ask questions if you see something. Asking if someone needs help is the first step to helping a victim admit there is something going on and to learn about the resources available.”
Marci Martinez, a Family Advocacy Program assistant, volunteered to apply the makeup to create “black eyes,” and other simulated trauma, for the other volunteers at the Family Advocacy Office. Once that was completed, they went to their regular duty sections to gauge the reactions of their co-workers and of people they encountered throughout the day.
One of the main goals for the event was to encourage people who see the signs to speak up about them. Volunteers were given cards to hand out to people who asked them about their “injuries,” thanking them for speaking up and providing information on domestic violence.
“It was nothing like I expected. Only one person [outside of my work area] acknowledged the fact that I had a bruise,” said Senior Airman Danielle McDaniels, Pediatrics Clinic team member. “The fact that no one else really said anything could have been for a couple of reasons. It could have been that they didn’t see the black eye, or they were afraid to speak up. They could have been uncomfortable with the topic and what issues just asking the question could have brought up.”
For the campaign at WHASC, the FAP printed 80 cards with the “thank you” messages. At the end of the day, volunteers returned only five of them. The volunteers, and many of those who spoke to them, spent time after the campaign ended learning about the stigma associated with domestic violence.
“With domestic violence, it’s kind of a taboo subject. Not only does it affect individuals, it affects the whole family,” Hodge-Young said. “Let’s say you have a family where the active duty member is the primary “breadwinner” and causing violence within their relationship. The victim may be unwilling to seek help because if they get the active duty member, or the breadwinner, in trouble, there’s a stigma they could lose their resources [financial loss, medical benefits, etc.].”
The Department of Defense is committed to addressing and ending domestic abuse. FAP offices throughout the DOD work to prevent abuse by offering programs to put a stop to domestic abuse before it starts. When abuse does occur, the FAP works to ensure the safety of victims and helps military families overcome the effects of violence and change destructive behavior patterns.
Hodge-Young, and the other three DAVAs across JBSA offer a variety of services to victims of domestic violence tailored to individual needs.
DAVAs provide victims assistance with safety plans or relocation efforts if the individual feels they are not safe at home. Additionally, DAVAs can assist with obtaining civil protective orders or no-contact orders, or – if necessary – military protective orders. Advocates can also assist victims with counseling for them and their child[ren], information on medical agencies and support, and assistance in finding legal representation if a victim requests it.
The Family Advocacy Program has a crisis line available 24-hours a day. The number is 210-367-1213.
In addition, there is a National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). However, anyone who is in immediate danger of assault or physical injury should call 911.