WASHINGTON, October 9, 2014 —
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the Defense Department is working to increase awareness of what a senior department official calls a serious public health issue and one for which the military offers multiple options for prevention and treatment.
“The military is a microcosm of civilian society,” Kathy Robertson, DoD’s Family Advocacy Program manager, said today in a DoD News interview, noting that nearly 8,000 substantiated incidents of domestic abuse and intimate-partner violence were reported in the department during fiscal year 2013.
“Research shows we are similar in our statistics to the civilian community,” Robertson said, “but one instance is too many.”
DoD is working to prevent domestic violence
The department is working to increase awareness of support programs that are available to military and civilian employees to prevent domestic violence and to care for victims.
“DoD has taken a very strong stance,” Robertson said, noting a memo that Jessica L. Garfola Wright, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, sent to all of the military departments. “Everyone has collaborated to continue to improve our prevention and response efforts,” she added.
“Our goal is really to take the stigma out of reaching out and getting help,” Robertson said, pointing out that confidential counseling is available around the clock, with neither law enforcement nor the command being notified. In cases in which victims feel as if they are in imminent danger, she added, military or civilian-issued protective orders can be obtained.
“I want people to know there are many resources available, and we can respect their privacy,” Robertson said. “What’s most important is their safety and their ability to seek help.”
(Follow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @SimeoneDoDNews)