By Bernard S. Little
WRNMMC Command Communications
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Director Navy
Capt. (Dr.) Mark Kobelja joined other leaders on Naval Support Activity
Bethesda Oct. 2 to sign a proclamation focusing on raising awareness of
Annually, the nation pauses during October to observe Domestic
Violence Awareness Month.
“Domestic Violence Awareness Month is intended to inform the
community about the damage caused to individuals, children, long-term health
care, work productivity and community safety from domestic violence,” stated
Lawanda Dezurn in reading the proclamation at the observance.
Dezurn, a social worker and Family Advocacy Program victim
advocate at NSAB, explained that in addition to the primary victims of domestic
violence, emphasis and care must also be directed towards secondary victims,
such as children. She explained those who witness or are aware of domestic
violence can be negatively impacted by it, causing long-term health issues if
“This awareness campaign engages the [military] community in
preventing domestic violence by supporting [our] colleagues, neighbors and
friends in utilizing resources, [and] creating partnerships among leadership,
social service agencies, schools, faith-based communities, civic organizations
and law enforcement agencies to address domestic violence,” Dezurn continued.
She furthered that “dedicated Fleet and Family Support
Center staff [at NSAB] encourages [service members], their families [and
others] to nurture healthy relationships while providing programs and services
to prevent domestic violence.”
Talia Bryan, another social worker and clinical case manager
at the FFSC on base, explained that Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved
from the "Day of Unity" held in October 1981 and conceived by the
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “The intent was to connect
advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and
their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range
of activities conducted at the local, state, and national level,” she stated. Activities
focused on “mourning those who have died because of domestic violence,
celebrating those who have survived, and connecting those who work to end
violence.” These themes have remained the focus of Domestic Violence Awareness
events since it became a month-long observance in 1989, Bryan said.
She added that “on a typical day, there are more than 20,000
phones calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.” Of those
reporting domestic violence incidences, 57 percent of alleged offenders are
military members and 43 percent are civilians, according to Bryan.
To battle domestic violence, Bryan said communities must
stand together. “No one should live in fear in their homes. We can speak up to
defend those who are being abused,” she stated.
It’s important to know the signs of domestic violence, Dezurn,
Bryan and other domestic violence victim advocates state. These signs can
include the physical, as well as jealousy by the abuser toward the victim, in
addition to the abuser not permitting the victim to spend time away from him or
her. Also, the abuser may publicly embarrass or shame the victim in various
ways, as well as try to control the victim through finances and other means.
Advocates encourage people who may know of someone
experiencing domestic abuse to “lend an ear” and “be available” to victims of
domestic violence. People should also know the number to a nearby shelter and
check in regularly with a loved one or friend in a difficult situation that may
be domestic violence. “Be a resource,” advocates say.
Those facing domestic violence and their loved ones and
friends should document incidents, which can be useful in later possible police
reports and court cases, both criminal and civil, advocates add.
Bryan encouraged people to seek out the FFSC on NSAB if they
or someone they know are facing domestic violence.
Navy Capt. Mary Seymour, NSAB commanding officer, said the
signing of the proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month on base is
more than just a promise. “We are reaffirming our commitment to take the
necessary steps to help those affected by domestic violence and to work toward
addressing it by knowing the signs of healthy relationships. It’s about
awareness and action.”
Seymour stressed this year’s theme for the observance, “Know
the Signs of Healthy Relationships and How to Strengthen Yours,” encourages
everyone to know what constitutes positive and negative behaviors and learn
ways to improve how to live with others.
“Educate yourselves in the signs of domestic violence – from
isolation, physical injuries, public humiliation, threats to harm, fear, low
self-confidence, extreme control of finance and documentation, stalking,
cyberbullying [and other behaviors],” Seymour said. “Commit yourself to become
more educated and adapt about domestic violence so you can be part of social
change,” she added.
In addition to Kobelja and Seymour, other leaders of commands
on NSAB who signed the proclamation included: Army Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald
Place, director of the National Capital Region Medical Directorate; Dr. Richard
Thomas, president of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences;
Navy Cmdr. Thad Sharp, officer-in-charge of the Naval Dosimetry Center; Marine
Lt. Col. Ryan Shaffer, officer-in-charge of Walter Reed Detachment Wounded
Warrior Battalion-East; Army Col. Brian Harthorn, commander of the Warrior Transition
Brigade-National Capital Region; Army Col. Tonya Dickerson, commander of the
U.S. Army Element-North; Navy Capt. (Dr.) Barry Adams, commanding officer of
the Navy Medicine Professional Development Center; and Navy Capt. Sheherazad
Hartzell, Navy Medicine Inspector General, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.