Walk, events spotlight domestic violence awareness

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

9/30/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- "Walk a mile in my shoes" is the theme of this year's Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities at Maxwell.

The main event is a mile walk from the Maxwell Event Center at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, open to adults, children and parents with strollers.

The route includes obstacles and challenges to make the program more meaningful.

"We're going to relate the activities to surviving domestic violence," said April Jones, Family Advocacy outreach manager. "It's not easy being a survivor, and there are many obstacles to surviving."

After the walk, Family Advocacy, the Maxwell-Gunter Officers' Spouses' Club, Hunt Housing, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office and the Health and Wellness Center will host an information fair providing refreshments and resources to the community.

"Maxwell-Gunter Officers' Spouses' Club is proud to support the domestic violence prevention walk," said Lisa McCaffrey, club president. "It is events like this that make a difference in our community that we encourage and support. Every person can make a difference."

These agencies uphold the wingman belief to respect and protect each other.

"The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office supports the Team Maxwell approach to help stop all types of violence in our community," said LaNesa Howard, the sexual assault response coordinator. "Our goal is to help victims to become stronger survivors and to educate the installation through training and awareness events."

Other programs offered in October include the biology of love lunch and learn events, which will discuss the chemical highs of love and encourage sustainability for healthy relationships, Jones said.

This event is offered four times: 11 a.m. to noon and 1-2 p.m. Oct. 12 at Maxwell Chapel 2 and 11 a.m. to noon and 1-2 p.m. Oct. 19 at Gunter Community Center. Participants are asked to bring a brown-bag lunch.

Teens also are included in this month's events, with a bowling activity at 5 p.m. Oct. 27 at Gunter Lanes.

Children learn about relationships at a young age, and teens need to be aware of healthy behavior when they begin dating, Jones said. "This event is a good interactive time for teens to learn about the red flags of domestic violence."

For information on Domestic Violence Awareness Month, contact Family Advocacy at 953-5430/5055.

Prevention requires vigilance

By building awareness of domestic violence, members of the Maxwell community can recognize warning signs in their relationships and in those around them.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this year's theme is "walk a mile in my shoes." The staff of Family Advocacy hopes the month's events will prevent violence in the home and lead to sensitivity for the needs of those who have survived.

"You never know, the person next to you may be a survivor of domestic violence," said Beverly Lesyea, the Family Advocacy officer.

Throughout the year, Family Advocacy aims to prevent domestic violence and provide support for those facing neglect, physical assault, emotional abuse and sexual assault in relationships.

Survivors face many obstacles when leaving a violent situation, said April Jones, Family Advocacy outreach manager. "On average, it takes seven times for a survivor to get out of a relationship," she said.

Surviving sometimes means mending a relationship, and Family Advocacy can help men and women find the solution best for their needs.

"Maybe there has been a shift in the balance of power," Lesyea said. "We try to help survivors who want to stay safely."

Family Advocacy helps children as well. "When domestic violence is in the home, children are affected, too," Jones said.

The program also can help parents talk to their children about preventing violence, which can be a critical conversation when teens start dating, Jones said.

Air Force Instructions requires all base personnel to report incidents of domestic violence and child abuse by contacting Family Advocacy at 953-5055 or 953-5430 after hours. Reports can be anonymous.

"There is absolutely nothing consistent with our Air Force Core Values when someone commits domestic violence," said Col. Brian Killough, 42nd Air Base Wing commander. "It does not show integrity, it is not excellence in any way, and it is one of the most selfish acts imaginable. I urge all Airman and their families to apply the last verse of the Airman's Creed to victims of domestic violence:

I am an American Airman.
I will never leave an Airman behind (as a victim of domestic violence).
I will never falter (in my efforts to end domestic violence),
And I will not fail (to protect victims of domestic violence)."