***image1***People stroll pass the red silhouette of a woman, stealing second glances at her. She is alone. She is mysterious. She is faceless.
She represents a domestic violence murder.
In observance of domestic violence awareness month Family Advocacy and the 735th Civil Engineer Squadron have placed two life-size female cutouts at the Vogelweh and Ramstein commissaries to symbolize the secrecy and isolation of spouse abuse.
“The KMC is not immune to domestic violence,” said Susan Curry, Ramstein Family Advocacy Program social work and outreach manager. “We want to increase community awareness and not look the other way.”
According to a 2001 report from the U.S. Department of Justice, every year spouse abuses result in 10,000 days of hospitalizations, almost 30,000 emergency room visits and 40,000 visits to the doctor.
“For community members to intervene can make a huge difference,” said Ms. Curry. “Acting on suspicions of abuse is sometimes difficult, but it’s the most effective way to help a family and stop the destructive patterns of abuse.”
“Many couples feel reluctant to ask for assistance,” said Yonette Davison, Army Family Advocacy program manager and counselor. “Often say they don’t want to ruin their spouses’ careers, but it is seldom happens. The military wants you to get help and that’s why we’re here.”
There’s a cycle that is often repeated and if a couple doesn’t get help the violence could get worse, said Ms. Curry.
Domestic abuse can be just as devastating for children, who receive mixed messages as they get caught in the middle of a violent episode.
“At school they learn that hitting is wrong, but at home they learn that hitting is used to solve problems,” said Ms. Curry. “They often blame themselves for the violence. They feel powerless to prevent or stop it.”
Women and children are not the only victims of domestic abuse, men often go unreported as victims because they are too embarrassed, said Ms. Curry.
The plywood silhouettes, along with other red figures on display, remind KMC members to seek help and be aware that domestic violence exists.
“If you suspect someone is being abused, it is important that you do not try to intervene yourself,” said Ms. Curry. “If you feel someone is in immediate danger, call the security forces. If you’re concerned about a couple call the family advocacy program for their branch.”
The Air Force Family Advocacy Program can be contacted at DSN 486-8366 and the Army Family Advocacy Program at DSN 479-2370.
The security forces DSN phone numbers are: at Ramstein 480-2050, at Sembach 496-7473 and at Vogelweh is 489-6060.
(Courtesy Family Advocacy)