Love Shouldn’t Hurt

By Christina M. Hernandez | The Family Advocacy Program | Oct. 11, 2019

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —

Domestic violence is a serious public health issue affecting individuals and families throughout the United States. It is estimated that 20 to 30 percent of women will be victims of domestic violence of some kind in their lifetime; and 1.5 to 2 million women annually are assaulted by a current or former partner. 1/9 men have experienced some type of physical, sexual or psychological violence perpetrated by an intimate partner. Nationwide, domestic violence hotlines will receive over 20,000 calls per day.  Children who have witnessed abuse are not exempt from its effects; children who grow up in abusive homes have higher rates of aggression and temperament problems, sleep disorders, low self-esteem and lower verbal and motor abilities than those who do not. Domestic violence has been recognized as a pervasive issue across several disciplines including social work, public health and law enforcement.

 While alcohol, drug use and economic factors may exacerbate acts of violence; intimate partner violence spans a wide range of socioeconomic demographics. One of the characteristics of intimate partner violence tends to be repetition and escalation of violent acts over time. While it is important to note that this type of violence includes all forms of abuse such as stalking, verbal abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse and psychological abuse, often our legal system minimizes the impact of less overt acts of abuse and provides legal sanctions only in cases of physical assault. Research has indicated that a person will make up to an average of five attempts at leaving an abusive relationship before they ultimately do so. There are a variety of factors that contribute to this dynamic as the stressors of leaving the relationship can be overwhelming. Often the victim will be faced with relocation, financial, legal and custody issues. Frequently the abuser will continue to threaten and harass the victim after they have left.

Statistics from United States Department of Justice are clear that intimate partner homicide is the largest killer of women in the U.S. with 40 to 50 percent of those fatalities perpetrated by a current intimate partner. Notably, the Federal report does not contain a category for ex-boyfriends or girlfriends which accounts for an additional 11 percent of homicides. A National Initiative to raise awareness of victims of domestic violence was started in Minnesota in 1990 and has spread throughout the country. Eventually named the Silent Witness Project, this initiative utilizes life size cutouts of victims of domestic violence to call attention to the very real, sometimes fatal, repercussions that silence plays in perpetuating the cycle.

During the month of October, named Domestic Violence Awareness Month, displays will be set up throughout the base by the joint base domestic abuse victim advocate and The Family Advocacy Program intervention specialist with support and materials from the Family Advocacy Program.

If you or someone you know may be in danger due to domestic violence – Family Advocacy is located on the second floor of the 87th Medical Group building and serves the entire joint base population. Services include a 24 hour hotline, enrichment classes, New Parent Support Program and domestic violence services. These services can be accessed during business hours at (609)754-9680. The domestic abuse victim advocate is available after duty hours and weekends at (609)283-5015 or through the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst app.