In 1981, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence observed the first “Day of Unity” to promote the connection of battered women with advocates across the country working toward ending violence against women and children. It was from this event that the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved in October 1987. This month we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month at Luke Air Force Base.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. The abuse can take many forms. The battering may include emotional, economic, physical or sexual abuse, manipulation, isolation, and a variety of other behaviors used to maintain fear, intimidation and power.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year. Domestic violence does not discriminate. Although the majority, 73 percent, of family violence victims are female, 27 percent of domestic violence victims are men.
Domestic abuse affects the entire family system. Studies suggest that worldwide, up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. Statistics also show that men who witness domestic violence as children are twice as likely to abuse their own partners than those of nonviolent parents.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reports that in Arizona alone, in 2011, 108 individuals were killed due to domestic violence. The Arizona Domestic Violence Fatality Report states that in 2012, 139 individuals lost their lives due to domestic violence. Of these 139 individuals, 71 were female and 68 were male.
What do all these numbers mean and how does domestic violence impact us? Domestic violence happens in our Air Force. In 2012, there were 10 domestic violence related deaths Air Force wide. Of these deaths, five were adults and five were children. At Luke, the domestic violence victim advocate received 305 contacts from domestic abuse victims and the Luke family advocacy program received a total of 66 referrals throughout the last year, showing that domestic violence is a problem within our community.
You may ask, “What am I supposed to do about this?” Thoughts of domestic violence typically bring up images of husbands and wives beating each other up in the privacy of their homes. It is taboo to talk about others’ personal business, and even more taboo to be a “snitch.”
But doing nothing is unacceptable. We all have the choice to do something about domestic violence. And in the course of doing something about domestic violence, we all have the power to save a life.
Never underestimate the power of your own presence in a situation. If you witness domestic violence in any form, we encourage you to contact the appropriate authorities. If a domestic violence incident is in progress, call 911 immediately. If you’re on base, security forces can be reached by calling 623-856-5970. Luke has a domestic violence victim advocate who can be contacted 24/7 on the crisis line at 623-255-3487. Any suspicions of domestic violence amongst military families can be reported directly to family advocacy at 623-856-3417.
This is a complex problem with no perfect solution. But in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and in honor of deceased victims of domestic violence, we ask you to consider choosing to use your powers to change or save a life.