The Army launched its official recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Oct. 1 with the theme, “End Domestic Violence: Recognize it, Report it, Prevent it,” meant to convey how the service hopes to raise awareness of domestic violence, inform victims that help is available and emphasize the negative impact it has on family readiness.
Perrar Joseph and Jeronica Frierson, victim advocates for the Army Community Service Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Program, visited the Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville to provide information about domestic violence and educate center employees on how to prevent domestic violence Oct. 15.
The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed in October 1987 after it was spearheaded by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and given the approval by President George W. Bush signing the proclamation.
Frierson said the decision to visit Huntsville Center is part of an effort to raise awareness of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and provide information about resources available to employees who are affiliated with Redstone Arsenal.
“During our last outreach effort, Huntsville Center was one of our more successful venues. The employees were interested in what our program has to offer and gave us positive feedback about how the visit impacted them,” Frierson said.
Joseph said it’s also very important for their team to let the entire Redstone community know they have access to ACS resources. He said sometimes employees think they cannot get help on post because their organization is located off post – out of sight, out of mind. However, he said they are working diligently to change this perception.
According to Joseph, the overarching goal for the Domestic Violence Awareness Program is reducing the stigma of reporting and increasing prevention, investigation and prosecution capabilities while ensuring protection for victims of domestic violence. He said their aim is to convey how the service hopes to raise awareness to prevent domestic violence within the ranks.
“We have broadened the term ‘domestic violence’ to not only include physical abuse but verbal, emotional and financial abuse,” Joseph said. “A lot of times words can cut deeper than wounds and those people that are not getting physically abused can access our services so healing can be done. That verbal abuse, such as name-calling, using derogatory terms and breaking down of the soul, we want to help those people. We offer free services for all victims of abuse.”
The team also handed out material about child abuse awareness, stress relief, anger management and other ACS services. Purple ribbons, lanyards and magnets added this year were distributed to Huntsville Center employees to raise awareness about domestic violence.
Joseph stressed the importance of victims seeking help from the appropriate sources. Since Redstone is such a small community, sometimes privacy may become an issue. This is why victims who may feel uncomfortable reporting an incident to Redstone authorities can seek help from a non-military resource, like Crisis Services of North Alabama and other off-post organizations.
Tammy Moore and Lequita Byrd-Craig, of the Huntsville Center Contracting Directorate, and Nicole Boone, Huntsville Center Small Business Office, all participated in some aspect of the domestic violence awareness event.
Boone said she watched the Department of Defense produced video on domestic violence prevention.
“The video, ‘I Got Flowers Today,’ is an awesome teaching tool to show how serious domestic violence really is. Victims no longer have to stand alone in silence,” Boone said. “The video tells the story. I shared it on social media to help others.”
Moore said she picked up valuable information from the display tables.
“It’s great that our leadership and the Equal Employment Opportunity Office support this program,” Moore said. “Employees may encounter domestic violence situations and should know how to respond. I think it is good to know where I can go to seek help when dealing with domestic violence.”
Byrd-Craig said she was attracted to the purple ribbons her colleagues wore to show their support.
“I’m familiar with the pink ribbons worn during October to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I often participate in those activities.” Byrd-Craig said. “But I noticed that Tammy wore a purple ribbon today. I asked her what the ribbon represented and she told me she picked the ribbon up during the domestic violence awareness event. I made sure I got a ribbon for myself and others on my team. We’re all wearing the ribbons to raise awareness.”
Angela Morton, chief of the Huntsville Center Equal Employment Opportunity Office, said she is pleased with the ripple effect that took place at Huntsville Center because preventing domestic violence is a high priority. “Domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate. It occurs at all ages, ranges, ethnic backgrounds and economic levels. Anyone could be a victim of domestic violence,” Morton said.
Joseph said he hopes to have the same success with employees at other organizations. His team will visit more Team Redstone organizations during October. For Joseph, there’s still a lot of work to do to raise awareness and support cannot be limited to just one month each year.
“Although we’ve made substantial progress in reducing domestic violence, one in four women and one in seven men in the United States still suffer serious physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner at least once during their lifetimes,” Joseph said. “Millions of Americans live in daily, silent fear within their own homes. We have to get the word out. Our services are for everyone. If you are a victim of domestic violence, if you know somebody that is experiencing domestic violence and if you are an abuser -- please give us a call. We want to help you.”
To report incidents of domestic violence, call the ACS 24/7 hotline at 256-508-6613 or Crisis Center of North Alabama at 256-716-1000.