JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, South Carolina –
A candlelit vigil was held to raise awareness for domestic abuse victims and honor military families affected by abuse at the Hunt Community Center here, Oct. 24.
The Family Advocacy Office has been raising awareness throughout October to educate members of Team Charleston about domestic abuse in the military and the resources available to victims as part of Domestic Abuse Prevention Month.
“We do a gate distribution at the beginning of the month to kick things off,” said Brenda Edmond, Family Advocacy outreach program manager. “The gate distribution had information about restricted and unrestricted reporting. We also have awareness tables set up throughout the base and banners hung up at each gate.”
Domestic abuse is not only physical assault, but it can be sexual, emotional, economic or psychological abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233, reported the number of calls from military families in 2011 was more than triple the numbers for 2006.
“The vigil helped promote awareness that this happens to military members, too. It honored some of the military members who have lost their lives to domestic violence,” said Edmond. “I spent 20 years in the military and I know a lot of times it feels like domestic violence is so far from us. Having the vigil on base helped to let people know that yes, this is happening to military members and we need to be aware because it is affecting us.”
According to Edmond, many people aren’t aware restricted and unrestricted reporting applies to domestic abuse as well as sexual abuse. If a victim makes an unrestricted report, their chain of command is notified and an investigation is started. When a restricted report is made, the chain of command is not notified and there is no investigation. A victim can still receive victim advocacy services.
“Domestic violence is one of those things we don’t like to talk about,” said Edmond. “They don’t like to think it’s happening. The purpose of the month is to bring awareness to people that it does exist, resources are available and let victims know they’re not alone.”
If you think you or anyone in you know is in immediate danger, call 911. The Family Advocacy Office on the Air Base can be reached at 843-963-6972 or for the Weapons Station Family Advocacy Office call 843-794-4192. A domestic violence victim advocate is available after normal business hours and weekend at 843-310-1884