JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.- —
Members from around the joint base gathered to attend a domestic abuse panel discussion hosted by the 87th Medical Group Family Advocacy Program at Tommy B’s Community Activity Center, here, Oct. 12.
Family advocacy works closely with courts and law enforcement to provide a safe community for service members and their families. October is domestic violence awareness month and it’s important to be aware of the red flags in different forms of abuse as well as the resources that are available to prevent or even cope with incidents.
“This is a service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; if it’s a Saturday night, an incident occurs and you have a dependent or a military member who has been a victim of domestic violence but you’re not sure what to do, you can call me,” said Christina Hernandez, Family Advocacy domestic abuse victim advocate. “One of the big things that I do is I go to court for people [that] are not near their family, friends and their support system.”
During the discussion, panelists spoke on their areas of expertise and answered questions pertaining to domestic violence and the different ways it can present itself; ways of reporting violence; and how to get treatment.
“Providence House offers an array of services that are both free and confidential to address the unique needs of those who have experienced abuse,” Monica Romani, Providence House domestic violence liaison. “We have counseling services; group counseling; education on domestic abuse; safety planning; advocacy and support with the courts and liaisons who work closely with the courts to help them navigate that process.”
There are also services provided for children that are victims of domestic violence through the Peace as a Learned Solution program. The program uses creative art therapy to help children cope with the abuse they have witnessed.
Family Advocacy offers classes that can be taken by any family dealing with stress, such as a new baby or having a blended family. Even if an incident hasn’t occurred, the classes may be taken as a way of strengthening families. The classes include stress management; anger management; “Daddy Boot Camp”; child birth classes; and breastfeeding classes.
Abuse can have long-term effects on survivors, such as physical injuries; PTSD; depression; anxiety; low self-esteem; suicidal thoughts; and alcohol or drug abuse. Abuse may also lead to difficulty with other relationships; which makes these resources particularly valuable to have available.
“A lot of times victims do want the help, you just have to keep poking at it [till they go] or get it for them,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michelle Humphrey, 87th Air Base Wing Staff Agency first sergeant. “They don’t [always] have the strength inside them [or] they’re beaten down so much, to go get it themselves. I knew about all of the programs, I’ve heard [about them] a hundred times, but you have to help them and sometimes that means taking them to go to these programs.”
The purpose of the discussion is to provide facts and resources to empower and bring awareness to members of the joint base.
“We hope to bring hope to those effected; and hope to bring support to our neighbors and friends; and we hope to inform,” said Bernadette Peace, 87th Medical Group Family Advocacy intervention specialist. “A resilient community is built upon the strength of individuals and families.”