NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Having simulated wounds applied to your face might not be a typical practice at 6 a.m. but for volunteer service members here Oct. 21, it marked the start of an opportunity to possibly make a difference.
The 99th Medical Operations Support Squadron Family Advocacy office ran a “Thanks for Asking” Campaign social experiment designed to show people everybody is uncomfortable talking about domestic abuse, but even when uncomfortable, there is still a need to step up and ask a domestic abuse victim if there is something that can be done to help.
Twenty-four volunteers, replicating domestic abuse victims with the use of moulage, were sent to their work centers to take note of how co-workers and passerby would react to their simulated appearance.
Moulage is the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training Emergency Response teams and other medical and military service members.
Teresa Lowe, 99th Medical Operations Squadron family advocacy outreach manager, believes the event is an excellent way to provide information to the base populace on ways to combat domestic abuse.
“I believe the volunteers learned a great deal from the opportunity [of] this event,” Lowe said.
“These participants were able to provide information to coworkers and others and assist them in learning how to approach possible victims of domestic violence.”
Those who confront the volunteers are given the opportunity to learn ways to combat domestic abuse. If or when someone approached a volunteer to ask about their fictitious wounds, a card reflecting the simulation was handed to the inquirer. Resources were written on the card including contact information for domestic abuse helping agencies.
“The concerned individuals who asked questions learned about resources as well as how to get involved,” Lowe said. “Having empathy for others is taking a step in the right direction towards solving large problems.
Not everyone who noticed the simulated victim’s bruises showed empathy, and at the day’s conclusion, Lowe received feedback from her volunteers.
“Most feedback reflected that only people who knew them or worked closely with them were willing to get involved,” Lowe said. “Strangers were not willing to ask questions. The exception was the great security forces staff we have here. They were willing to ask questions and were concerned for the welfare of the volunteers.”
Staff Sgt. Daniel Quintana, 413th Flight Test Squadron Detachment 1 aircrew life support craftsman and “Thanks for Asking” Campaign volunteer, recalled how concerned his coworkers and fellow Airmen were upon noticing his simulated bruise.
“I thought everyone was going to make a joke about it because I am a male, but I was very surprised that they cared a lot,” Quintana said. “My chain of commanded was concerned about my well-being and asked a lot of questions to make sure that I was OK. Everyone was concerned about me, even the security forces Airmen at the gates asked if I was alright.”
Lowe views the experience as a success and was able to get useful feedback from the volunteers.
“The volunteers were put in the victim role, and they learned a great deal from the experience.” Lowe said. “There were 125 [people] who were provided with information, willing to help and get involved with others.”
When confronted with domestic abuse some people may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable and may shy away from stepping up. The “Thanks for Asking” Campaign is aimed at educating people on the services provided by family advocacy before an incident occurs.
For more information on domestic abuse and services available through family advocacy, call (702) 653-3866.