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NEWS | Oct. 27, 2015

The Victim Advocate Speaks Out Against Domestic Violence

By Robin Sevigney JB Charleston Victim Advocate

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. One in four women and one in seven men over the age of 18 will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence. 


Sometimes I am still stunned that a public health issue of this proportion has not been taken seriously worldwide. Yes, there are advocates and outreach organizations fighting the good fight. Many agencies and private citizens have fought to raise awareness and to make the voice of the countless victims heard. What has not changed is that South Carolina is again ranked number one in women killed by men in domestic violence incidents.

When I was about 10 years old our next door neighbor's children came to sleep at our house on a school night. My sister and I were excited about having a sleep over during the week but our excitement was short-lived. I remember what came next. The frightened whispers of why they were there. Their father had been drinking, hit their mother and she was bleeding. I heard their mother crying downstairs. I also remember their father banging loudly on our front door. I was afraid, I can only imagine how they were feeling, huddled upstairs in our beds waiting for help to arrive.

The police came and took their father to jail overnight. When he "sobered up," he was released. After that night, they were no longer allowed to talk with us. Their mother was my mother's best friend and that ended immediately. There was a strange silence and animosity toward our family I did not understand. I believe this incident planted the seed of my passion about the issue of domestic violence. The impact of that one situation affected two families. Domestic violence is a community issue. It is our business.

The idea that domestic violence is not our business to report or to speak up when we see or hear it is one reason for the ongoing problem. We cannot turn our heads and close our eyes. If we are aware of the problem and do not address it with our family, friends and associates, we aid in perpetrating the cycle of violence. Silence speaks volumes to victims and teaches our children it is not a real problem. Silence also tells domestic violence offenders their behavior is acceptable.

Studies suggest up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. A comprehensive program for children is essential in breaking the cycle of domestic violence. Children growing up in these environments are much more likely to become perpetrators or victims of domestic violence themselves. A startling statistic is that two thirds of people in domestic violence shelters are children. I ask you to think of your children and the likelihood they will be impacted by this very real public health issue. The time has come to make it our business and to stand together with one voice to say that domestic violence will not be tolerated.

At Joint Base Charleston, we are working toward creating a culture which promotes healthy military communities. The core values of respect, trust, commitment, integrity and selflessness must be held so our families are healthy and strong. Contact Family Advocacy at (843) 963-6972, Airbase or (843) 794-7435 Naval Weapons Station for more information.  The Domestic Violence Victim Advocate is available 24/7 via (843) 405-5776 to respond to victims of Domestic Violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE and Military One Source is 1-800-342-9647.