Domestic abuse is a problem that can affect many families, including military families. According to the Defense Department Family Advocacy Program report, victims of domestic abuse include both men and women. In fact, one in four women are or will be victims, and 15 percent of reports involve male victims.
According to Maj. Corey Christopherson, 56th Medical Operations Squadron Behavioral Health Flight commander, domestic abuse has many forms and is not just limited to obvious physical violence. It may include physical aggression or assault, threats, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, isolation, stalking, economic deprivation and violation of a lawful order issued to a victim for protection.
Domestic abuse may involve someone who is a current or former spouse of an abuser, a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common, a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common residence.
While domestic abuse encompasses all forms of abuse, domestic violence refers to physical acts of abuse.
Some examples of domestic violence include physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects); it also includes sexual abuse and emotional abuse.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children exposed to domestic violence have a greater chance of exhibiting signs of aggressive behavior, such as bullying, and are up to three times more likely to be involved in fighting.
In one particular case, Audrey Mabrey, whose story was published in The Tampa Bay Times, was a child who saw her mother endure abuse at the hands of her father and became a victim herself as her brother imitated the behavior.
As an adult, Mabrey went through two abusive relationships. The most recent one ended violently in 2009. Her husband, Christopher Hanney, beat her, soaked her in gasoline and then lit her with a candle causing severe burns to her body.
Although Mabrey has endured so much, she is still determined to turn her tribulation into a positive by helping others to recognize signs of abuse.
â€œIt is oftentimes a silent issue, so it is important to encourage other women to not only get out of it (the abusive relationship) but to advocate,â€ Mabrey was quoted as saying in the article.
When Mabrey looks back at her courtship and marriage with Hanney, she now sees the signs and red flags she learned about during counseling.
For those who may be in abusive relationships, knowing the signs is very important to their safety and well being.
â€œKnow the red flags,â€ said Crystal Lewis Brown, army.mil writer. â€œAbuse may not always begin as physical abuse.â€
Examples include using coercion and threats, intimidation, isolation (controlling access to military I.D. card, family and friends), using children (refusing to help with the children, threatening to hurt them), and denying and blaming.
â€œEven though it may seem to the victim there arenâ€™t a lot of options available, there are,â€ Christopherson said. â€œThe victim has the right to receive support from a victim advocate at any time.
â€œThe Luke Air Force Base Family Advocacy Program offers domestic abuse victim advocates who are trained professionals to provide non-clinical advocacy services to domestic abuse victims.â€
Victim advocates provide services including crisis intervention, coordinating emergency services, transportation, shelter, food, safety assessment and planning.
For victims who wish to make a restricted report, which is confidential in accordance with Air Force policy, they can do so through the domestic abuse victim advocate, a medical care provider or the family advocacy center. Only military members can make restricted reports. For more information on restricted reporting and other available options of reporting, call the DAVA.
According to Christopherson, the on-call DAVA will help victims to make informed and independent decisions.
In support of victims who are in immediate need, the DAVA has an emergency phone line open around the clock at (623) 255-3487. In case of a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
For more information on safety plans and other resources, check out the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence website at azcadv.org.