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McConnell helps break domestic violence cycle

Posted 10/18/2011   Updated 10/18/2011 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Abigail Klein and Airman 1st Class Armando A. Schwier-Morales
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

10/18/2011 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- October marks the national observation of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As a result, McConnell's Family Advocacy Program participated in a community event Oct. 18, 2011, to help military members and their families understand the realities of domestic violence.

The event took place at City Hall, and included Carl Brewer, Wichita, Kan., mayor and other City Hall representatives, who frequently partner with McConnell to assist domestic violence victims. The event culminated with an official proclamation for domestic violence month.

Domestic violence includes threats, pushing, punching, slapping, choking, sexual assaults and assaults with weapons. It is any physical, emotional or sexual maltreatment. Domestic violence knows no discrimination. It can happen regardless of age, race, religion, education and income levels. The month is meant to symbolize a united stance against the offenders while providing support for their victims, said Alisa Norlin, 22nd Medical Group Family Advocacy Outreach manager.

To combat domestic violence, the Family Advocacy Program hosts classes not only to educate families, but also help health care providers learn the warning signs. McConnell's participation in the community event is necessary is an extension of this program assisting victims beyond the gate, as the success of domestic violence program involves local law enforcement, legal and medical agencies.

"One out of every four women are abused by a partner at some point and time in their life while one in nine men are abused," said Norlin. "Statistically, we all know someone who has been abused."

Norlin hopes events like the proclamation at City Hall will open the door to people who need help and encourage Airmen to recognize the warning signs.

"We hope to reach people who maybe haven't acknowledged that they are in violent situation," she said. "We talk a lot about suicide prevention, and statistically, just like those contemplating suicide, victims of domestic violence are waiting for someone to ask the question, it's a minute difference to us but it's huge to them."

Though the victims may not be aware of it, there are a variety of shelter services within the local community. Despite common belief, victims do not have to be residents of the shelter to receive its protective services.

"[In Wichita] we have a safehouse and shelter program in addition to numerous outreach services for victims," said Cheryl Webb, Young Women's Christian Association community outreach services director. "We work closely with McConnell to fight domestic violence and want McConnell members to know that there are people in the community that care about them and will 'walk the walk' with them.

These assisted services include issuing protection orders, court advocates who can accompany the victim to court to help them access the justice system.

Though Domestic Violence Awareness Month will conclude at the end of October, Norlin hopes that in addition to suicide prevention, Airmen will also continue to look for the warning signs of domestic violence, preventing future victims.

For more information about domestic violence prevention or services, call family advocacy at (316) 759-5091, or the National Domestic hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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