Issue: October 11, 2013
Breaking the silence: Domestic Violence Awareness Month brings attention to intimate partner violence


By Chandra N. Peterson
Family Advocacy Outreach Manager


“Break the Silence” is the theme for the 2013 Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which began Oct. 2. 

The prevention of intimate partner violence extends beyond victims reporting abuse. It must be a multifaceted approach that includes education and awareness – not just for individuals in abusive relationships, but also coworkers, leadership, healthcare providers, family and the community at large.

The goal is to break the cycle of abuse and help people learn to have happy and healthy families. Breaking the silence is one of the hardest – but most courageous steps, because speaking out is the first step to getting help.

The Joint Base San Antonio Family Advocacy Program looks to bring awareness to this issue and give a voice to the men, women and children affected by intimate partner abuse. Each year, the program receives thousands of domestic abuse reports from members of the military community who have broken the silence.

Unfortunately, many incidents are still never reported. Why victims choose not to report vary, but reasons include economic challenges, disagreements on parenting, lack of information about available services, fear, believability, love for their partner and continued hope the relationship will improve. 

The Famiy Advocacy Program first sees individuals and families during a period of crisis in their relationships. However, during that time, we also see the strength, resiliency and hope of these individuals and families as they face those challenges.

Part of breaking the silence on abuse is redefining domestic violence.  In many areas, the terms “domestic violence” and “domestic abuse” have been replaced with “intimate partner violence” or “intimate partner abuse” to be more inclusive.

The term “domestic violence” often conjures ideas of physical violence between a husband and wife and appears to exclude types of maltreatment other than physical abuse, such as neglect, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.

This narrow definition marginalizes many victims and their situations, so they incorrectly assume some services are not applicable or available to them. 

Intimate partner abuse can occur between individuals of the opposite or same sex who live together, have lived together or share children in common.  With the repeal of “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell,” the military has updated instructions to support this inclusion.
Another misconception is the idea that intimate partner violence is a “women’s issue.” Categorizing intimate partner abuse this way allows others to minimize or ignore the problem and not act. .

It also diminishes the pervasiveness of intimate partner abuse in daily life, as well as the impact on men and children. 

Men play important and unique roles in preventing abuse, which could go unrecognized and underutilized, if this pervasive attitude of intimate partner abuse as a “women’s issue” persists.

Prevention is not about jumping in to stop a fight, but rather working to change attitudes and create environments that affirm abuse is not okay. 

Although women are overwhelmingly the victims of intimate partner abuse, men experience abuse and need support as well. As a result of these myths and stereotypes, many continue to suffer in silence.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Don’t let your silence give consent or permission for abuse to continue.

Get educated and get involved this October – National Domestic Violence Awareness Month – and every month. For questions about any upcoming events or if you need help, contact Family Advocacy at 292-5967 for JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and 652-2448 for JBSA-Randolph.


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