JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
Approximately one in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic violence in their lives, with 10 million children exposed to domestic violence a year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month nationwide, and the Joint Base Andrews Family Support Center is educating the base community on interpersonal violence and types of domestic abuse.
“The misconception about domestic violence is that it’s only physical, and that is far from the truth,” said Jenna Miller, 11th Medical Group family advocacy outreach manager. “There are several types of abuse someone may be suffering through.”
Mental and emotional mistreatment are forms of abuse and can be harder to identify than physical abuse.
“Abuse is about control, no matter the type,” said Karen Silcott, 11th MDG clinical social worker. “Often there are warning signs, but people mistake those signs as their partner caring about them. From there it can escalate, and before they know it a cycle of abuse has started.”
Name-calling, obsessive texting, pinching, shoving, and insulting are all forms of abuse.
Prolonged emotional and mental abuse can take a physical toll and lead to chronic headaches, alcohol and drug abuse, fatigue and eating disorders.
Victims experiencing abuse may appear irritable, fearful, depressed or exhausted. Excessive crying, a messy appearance and isolation from friends and family can also be signs.
“Being able to identify warning signs is critical because people still have a hard time reaching out for help, especially military members,” Silcott said.
Military spouses, in particular, can be weary of coming forward due to reprisal their spouse could face, she added.
Abusers who are also the sole financial support can hold that over their spouse’s head, as a means of keeping their partner from leaving or reporting the situation.
Barriers that affect leaving include being overwhelmed by immediate physical and psychological trauma, concern for how a separation may affect children involved, lack of health care, or income to provide for themselves and their families.
“People being mistreated are often told by their abuser that no one will believe them and if they hear that enough they will start to believe it,” Miller said.
Family Advocacy can offer counseling, on a base-by-base case, and can also provide referrals to outside agencies.
For more information on domestic abuse, contact the Family Support Center at 240-857-9680, or the 11th MDG mental health clinic at 240-857-7186.
“We want people to know our services are available and they have someone to turn to,” Silcott said. “Taking the first step may be hard, but we have resources to help those suffering and it’s important to start the healing process.”