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Commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Domestic violence has no face. It affects people of all ages, all economic backgrounds, and all races. In fact, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, according to Shirley Crow, Family Advocacy Program domestic assault victim advocate. Yet most people never know anything is happening.

This October marks the 26th annual observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The first observance was in 1987, the same year the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline was introduced. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Congress designated October as the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 1989.

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior in a relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner, said Martina Porter, FAP outreach manager.

One of the common misunderstandings of domestic violence, she said, is it only includes physical abuse, but that is not true. "It can be physical abuse, sexual, emotional or economic. Often times, people don't even realize this is wrong and inappropriate," she said.

Of course, Crow pointed out, men can be victims, too, though it's less often, and studies show women offend more often for revenge rather than power.

During October, Crow and Porter are reaching out to the base community to raise awareness, not only of the prevalence of domestic violence, but of the preventative services family advocacy offers.

"We want people to come in prior to any incidents of violence," Porter said. "We want them to come in and get educated. We won't notify command that you're in a class or if you have a question. We want you in here before anything erupts."

Family advocacy is a non-punitive agency, meaning that calling the DAVA will not result in any reporting or legal action.

Crow said every day in the United States, three women die at the hands of their abuser and, a majority of the time, no one knew they were even suffering.

Since Crow took the DAVA position in February, two women within the local Air Force community have died from domestic violence. "I don't think people think it hits home, but it does," she said.

Crow has had 30 clients. Most of what she does is help guide people through the process of getting help, whether it's a restraining order, finding a safe place to live or getting counseling.

"There are a lot of resources, but there's a huge canyon between the people who need the resources and their resource. Finding the bridges to get them together is the hardest thing," Crow said. "My job isn't to tell them what to do, but to open their vision of what is possible."

To commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month, FAP has hosted several events including a speaker about recognizing the signs of strangulation Oct. 2, a candlelight vigil at the chapel Oct. 9, a Spike Out Domestic Violence volleyball tournament Oct. 19, and a Strike Out Domestic Violence bowling tournament Oct. 27.

For more information about programs and services, contact 556-8943. In case of an emergency, contact the DAVA crisis line, 24/7 at (719) 244-9903.

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