Domestic violence should be addressed all year long

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- In my short Air Force career, I have come across many individuals who have been affected in one way or another by domestic violence. 

Although the U.S. Department of Justice estimates more than 90 percent, which adds up to more than 4 million in one year, of all victims of domestic violence are women; men are also subjected to the perils of domestic violence. 

Many people don't think a man could be the victim of violence because they are traditionally thought of as the stronger sex. However, I have met more men than women who have been victims. I believe these cases are not reported because a man may feel he will not be taken seriously. 

Several men who have been attacked, either physically or emotionally, by their wives or girlfriends have shared their stories with me. It seems maybe the low numbers of men reported has something to do with how society perceives this problem. 

While physical abuse is the most visible form of domestic violence, emotional or verbal abuse can be as dangerous. No matter what form the violence takes, the underlying problem lies in a person's need to feel powerful and in control of another person's behavior. 

When a person finds themselves in this situation, it can become very difficult for them to leave the relationship. Victims are often socially isolated, according to Military One Source - a Web site that deals with various issues faced by military members and their families. In many instances, victims hope their significant other will change behaviors or feel responsible for the violence in their lives. 

To combat this serious problem that affects every socioeconomic group within the Air Force, it's important to be aware of the signs of domestic violence. Some common signs signaling a need for help are: 

- Someone who seems afraid of his or her spouse. 
- Someone who receives any type of rough treatment, to include grabbing, pinching, shoving or hitting. 
- Someone with unexplained bruises, injuries or absences from work. 
- Someone who's embarrassed or humiliated in public or private. 
- Someone who receives harassing phone calls at work. 
- Someone who's not allowed to see or talk to relatives or friends. 
- The destruction of personal or public property. 
- Someone who receives threats of violence against themselves, their children or other people they love. 
- Someone who receives threats of suicide from their significant other. 

If you are concerned that a coworker, friend or an acquaintance is the victim of domestic violence, it is important to report the suspicion to the Family Advocacy Center. Servicemembers are required to report all suspicious situations, according to Military One Source. 

However, many people may feel uncomfortable coming forward when they believe it's none of their business or fear some type of repercussions. So, if you happen to become involved in a possible domestic violence situation, the best course of action may be the following: 

- Show your concern by listening to the victim and advising them you believe them. 
- Explain that the victim doesn't need to stay in the relationship and help is available. 
- Urge the victim to contact the FAC, chaplain or a victim advocate. 
- Give the victim the National Domestic Violence hotline at (800) 799-7233. 
- Advise the victim they are not responsible for the violence and abusers rarely stop without outside help, regardless of promises. 
- Be there for the victim, and don't ignore them 

Domestic violence is not an issue to be addressed one month out of the year; it is an ongoing problem. The National Crime Prevention Council addresses this idea by simply stating, "Silence is the batterer's best friend. We have to end the silence and change our attitudes toward domestic crime."