By Heather McDowell Duong, MRMC PAO
Fort Detrick's Family Advocacy Program helped raise awareness of domestic violence by hosting two information sessions dedicated to curbing abuse at the Community Activities Center Oct. 30, as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Sessions were split into a morning session presided over by U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick Commanding General Maj. Gen. Joseph Caravalho Jr., and an afternoon gathering presided over by U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick Commander Col. Steven P. Middlecamp. Both sessions included the reading of a signed proclamation affirming Fort Detrick's commitment to preventing abuse, an overview of FAP services, and a special presentation given by a spousal abuse survivor.
In his introductory remarks Caravalho said, "All violence needs to be mitigated and eliminated. As soldiers we are called to be gentlemen and gentle ladies when not on the battlefield."
Caravalho noted that large facets of the military community are at risk of falling prey to domestic violence. To combat this challenge the proclamation emphasized the need to recognize, report and prevent domestic abuse.
FAP Program Manager Lisa Homer echoed these sentiments, noting that multiple deployments may increase the likelihood of domestic and child abuse. Homer added that the number one risk factor for abuse is stress, including financial and work-related pressures.
Homer discussed FAP's mission to prevent spouse and child abuse. She added that services include education, prompt reporting, investigation, intervention and treatment. She discussed the Victim Advocate Program that provides comprehensive advocacy services and support to victims of domestic abuse, including crisis intervention, assistance in securing medical treatment for injuries, information on legal rights and proceedings, and referral to shelters and other resources available to victims.
Guest speaker and domestic violence prevention advocate Yvette Cade shared that domestic violence, date rape, and bullying in schools are closely tied together. She explained that individuals often express feelings of anger or inadequacy by committing more than one of these offenses. A victim herself of both date rape and domestic violence, Cade challenged the audience to "raise the bar for community greatness," in facing this epidemic.
Amongst a hushed audience Cade retold her harrowing experience living with domestic violence. She described being hit, kicked, punched, threatened, and even slashed with a knife by her husband. Cade said she was verbally abused and regularly bombarded by a slew of insults doled out by her husband.
"He was trying to break me, make me think I was nothing," said Cade.
Cade shared that she broke free of the chain of torment by legally separating from her husband and securing a restraining order. But the abuse continued.
Unbeknownst to Cade, her ex-husband had the restraining order against him lifted. One day he entered her place of work and doused her with gasoline. Cade immediately fled outside trying to get away. Her ex-husband seized her and, as Cade tearfully described, set her on fire.
Years and more than 40 surgeries later, Cade is now recovered. She said she looks upon her experience as a calling from God to speak out against domestic violence. She emphasized that women and men should heed their instincts when entering into a potentially volatile relationship and hold open, transparent conversations about the ever-looming threat of violence within their families and across society.
Of her own tormented relationship Cade said, "I saw the red flags - how he was jealous and controlling, but I didn't follow my instinct. I was a dedicated and loyal person..."
Reflecting on those earlier years in her life, Cade stated, "Your have the right and choice to back out at any time."
Cade recommended individuals in potentially dangerous relationships review the Power and Control Wheel, a model developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project that lists common abusive behaviors and tactics used against battered women. Cade stated that her ex-husband exhibited every malicious trait shown in the model, from trying to exercise full control over their expenses, to threatening her extended family members.
As for publically addressing abuse, Cade said, "Domestic violence should be a dinner table conversation. In needs to be talked about." She emphasized the need for discussion in schools and better ways to connect victims with available resources.
Encouraging the audience to act now, Cade exclaimed, "Today is the time for liberation!"
To learn more about how you can help liberate Fort Detrick by recognizing, reporting or preventing domestic violence contact the Family Advocacy Program at 301-619-7453.
To review the Power and Control Wheel, go online to: http://www.ncdsv.org/publications_wheel.html