PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, designed to increase awareness and understanding of a topic not often brought into the open. This year is the 30th year the campaign has taken place.
“It’s important that we recognize this month because it’s an issue that keeps growing in our society,” said Shirley Crow, 21st Medical Group, domestic violence victim advocate at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. “Not that it’s new, but it is very hidden and (kept) behind closed doors.”
DVAM got its start in 1981, evolving from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Day of Unity for the purpose of connecting advocates across the nation who were doing similar work attempting to end violence against women and children. The day grew into a week of activities taking place at the national, state and local levels.
According to information from the NCADV some common themes developed as awareness efforts advanced. Three prevalent themes emerged: mourning those who died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and connecting those who work to end violence. The initial DVAM was held October 1987 and the first national domestic violence hotline was established that year.
On Sept. 14, 2016, 38 of 45 identified domestic violence programs in Colorado participated in the National Census of Domestic Violence Services. During the 24-hour snapshot participating agencies in the state reported:
• 919 victims were served.
• 476 victims took refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing.
• 443 adults and children received non-residential assistance and services.
• 338 hotline calls were answered.
• 253 requests for services went unmet due to lack of resources. Nearly 70 percent were for housing.
“Hopefully the campaign reaches people so they know there is help,” said Kisa Corcoran, 21st MDG domestic violence victim advocate. “We hope to destigmatize domestic violence over time. After victims are safe, it allows the survivors to talk about it and people to know they are not alone.”
“We want people to understand domestic violence more and understand how devastating it is,” Crow said. “We want them to see it is increasing in numbers and severity, for both the military and civilians.”
Up until recently the statistics stated that one of every four women had been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Now CCADV data shows the number has dropped to one in three.
Crow and her cohorts work to make sure victims of domestic violence know their rights in the military and civilian worlds. They also provide resources to help victims and their families in both settings.
“Our job is to support the victim,” said Crow. “Our job is to help them with safety planning. We can help them make a decision to leave (the violent situation) and then how to stay safe, or to know what resources are available if they decide to stay.”
Both women stated it is important for victims to know visits to their office are strictly confidential. They do not have to report to anyone else on the matter.
Local needs mirror the data from the NCDVS survey. The most frequent services sought through her office are legal support and help, Crow said. Following that are requests for alternative housing. For housing needs advocates contact local non-profit organization TESSA.
“They have grants for this and are trying to expand those services,” Crow explained.
Because there are no resources for children victims on Peterson AFB those needs are also referred to TESSA. The organization has resources to help children deal with being victims or witnesses to domestic violence, and understand what is happening.
There are a few events taking place on Peterson AFB connected to DVAM. There will be training offered on Wingman Day, Oct. 27 and Crow will make a presentation titled “Why She Stands” on that day. Silent witness cutouts will be located in the Mission Support Group building and messages will be placed on the marquees at base entrance gates.
For more information Crow can be reached at (719) 556-8571.
Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://ccadv.org/