Defense Issues: Volume 11, Number 78-- Stop the Violence DoD responds to spousal abuse in military families with programs that are among the nation's best. The people responsible for those programs throughout the services constantly seek ways to improve them.
Volume 11, Number 78
Stop the Violence
Prepared remarks of Carolyn Becraft, deputy assistant secretary of defense for personnel support, families and education; John McLaurin, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for military personnel management and equal opportunity policy; Karen Heath, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs; and Ruby B. Demesme, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for force management and personnel, at the DoD Family Advocacy Program Forum on Domestic Violence, Washington, July 23,1996.
Becraft. It is my pleasure to welcome you to this forum on domestic violence. ... The focus of this meeting will be on spouse abuse.
We have convened this forum to take a close look at what the Department of Defense is doing to prevent spouse abuse and how we are addressing abuse after it has occurred. We invited you because we need your expertise. We need your suggestions on how we can prevent spouse abuse, how we can intervene when it does occur, how we can support and treat the victim and how we can deal with the abuser in a way that prevents any further abuse.
Later this year we will have a follow-up conference. We will take the information and recommendations you will hear today and tomorrow and develop a policy agenda for the Department of Defense which will improve our efforts to combat spouse abuse.
Let me briefly explain why we are emphasizing the term "spouse abuse" at this forum. Let me assure you that DoD is committed to ending the broader forms of family violence, including violence between currently unmarried couples, between couples that were never married and between formerly married couples. Our public awareness programs that are part of our family centers' information and referral programs address these broad concerns. However, eligibility for our DoD programs is limited to those who are service members or enrolled family members of the service member.
We must address spouse abuse by seeking to prevent it through a variety of programs that maintain the quality of life of military families and reduce the particular stressors that may trigger incidents of spouse abuse.
We consider the balance between the military mission and families to be one of our most significant quality of life issues. Quality of life programs which support the service member and civilian workers and their families are linked to military readiness in several ways.
First, these programs help us recruit good people by offering attractive incentives for education, career advancement, retirement and other benefits. These programs also provide assurances to service members that their families will have a support system in place during deployments.
Finally, when we provide a good quality of life for service members and their families, it helps us to retain the people in whom we have invested so much. We have a saying in DoD that "we recruit single members but we retain the family."
My organization ensures that social services, recreation and education programs are in place wherever military families are stationed. These programs mirror those found in civilian communities but are tailored to meet two major challenges of the military lifestyle.
The first challenge is the periodic absence of the service member due to increasingly frequent deployments. We want to make sure that our families are strong and empowered to handle the responsibilities and stresses that occur with the absence of the service member.
The second challenge is mobility. Our families move approximately every three years, often to another part of the world. This means that our families are frequently packing and unpacking, enrolling their children in new schools, switching physicians and dentists, getting acquainted with new neighbors and getting to know new environments and cultures. We are proud of our families' resiliency, and we want to support them as they make important decisions in new surroundings.
To help support our families, we have a network of programs ranging from family centers to child development and youth programs, an overseas school program and our Family Advocacy Program.
We have more than 290 family assistance centers worldwide serving our military families. Examples of services we provide are relocation assistance, transition from military to civilian life, employment assistance, information and referral, outreach and, with particular relevance to the prevention of spouse abuse, family life education, family counseling and financial management counseling.
We seek to prevent spouse abuse more directly through the particular prevention efforts of the family advocacy program, or FAP, as we call it. We are now emphasizing the prevention of family violence in our junior enlisted population, where most of our child and spouse abuse cases occur. During this conference you will hear about some signs of potential success in preventing spouse abuse through home visiting programs related to new parents.
We take pride in the DoD response to spouse abuse. To my knowledge, we have the most comprehensive approach for responding to spouse abuse in the country. Our FAP combines prevention, intervention that stresses the victim's safety and treatment for both the abuser and the victim. We have the most comprehensive data system regarding spouse abuse in the nation.
We know of the cases reported to us, we have a low rate of spouse abuse. What we don't know is what is not reported to us. But we still have a long way to go. We are always striving to improve our program. We are currently conducting studies specifically addressing spouse abuse.
Finally, let me add an additional concern. It relates to our general understanding about domestic violence. We know that domestic violence is predominantly a male problem. That is, the vast majority of abusers are male, and the vast majority of victims are female. But in DoD for at least three years we have been seeing about 30 percent of our cases involve wives abusing their husbands. We need to understand this data better.
Since DoD defines all violence between couples as unacceptable regardless of who is hitting whom, we may have a broader "net" than civilian domestic violence programs that have mostly emerged as a result of the women's movement.
I am very glad you are here with us, and I thank you in advance for the contributions you will make. I am looking forward to two stimulating days of discussion.
And now, on to the presentations. Our first presentation will be by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Military Personnel Management and Equal Opportunity Policy Mr. John McLaurin.
McLaurin. Good morning. ... I am honored to accept this invitation to provide comments on the U.S. Army's approach to domestic violence. As a former soldier, I am proud of the Department of the Army's initiatives and efforts to strengthen family coping and parenting skills and the way in which we prevent and intervene in family abuse.
We have long since realized that taking care of families makes good business sense in both peace and war. This approach is a wholesome departure from the military's old adage, "If we wanted you to have a family, we would have issued you one." The professional commitment of soldiers is intense and must be matched in commitment by the Army as an institution to provide those services which help soldiers balance career and family needs.
The Family Advocacy Program is one of the many programs available to Army soldiers and families. We think we have a very proactive, aggressive approach to the identification, reporting, prevention and intervention of family violence.
Prior to the mid-70s and the inclusion of spouse abuse in the Family Advocacy Program in 1981, the Army community tended to view domestic violence as a personal problem between individuals, not unlike in the civilian community. There are many who would still like to believe that spouse abuse does not exist. I can personally think of very few subjects which strike a nerve the way this topic does and which conjure up strong personal emotions about the types of behavior which define domestic violence.
From the words of victims:
- "People think if they don't have their arms or legs broke that it's not abuse. I don't care if it's a fist in the head or being pummeled with a gallon of milk. It's all abuse."
- "Fear kept me in the relationship: fear of failure, fear of being alone, fear that the next beating would be the worst -- or the last."
Almost without exception, one can reflect on their own childhood, that of a friend or relative or on stories similar to these told by domestic violence victims. Many other victims have yet to tell their story and still carry the personal horror with them today. Sadly, some victims will never tell their story.
We all know victims and perpetrators do not fit a stereotype. They can be like you and me, and they come from all economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. This is as true for the military as it is for American society.
And as in American society, the problem of domestic violence requires coordination and networking with many resources, clear reporting procedures, adequate police intervention, clinical assessment and treatment, safety, support and advocacy for the victim. This problem exacts huge costs, both financial and personal, from the victim, the offender and the community.
Within the context of Department of Defense directives, Army Regulation 608-18 defines domestic violence and prescribes policies and procedures for the effective operation of the Family Advocacy Program. Generally, "spouse abuse" is defined as a pattern of behavior that causes physical injury, emotional harm or the threat of danger by one spouse in a marriage against another and includes acts such as physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and property violence.
The Army's philosophy on domestic violence is one of no tolerance. The principles which serve as the basis for the Army's no tolerance approach to domestic violence are:
- Violence against a spouse is unacceptable and contrary to the Army's principles and values of professionalism and personal conduct.
- Abusive behavior is learned and can be unlearned through effective intervention.
- Spouse abuse is a crime.
- Spouse abuse is a community problem requiring a communitywide response and an involved command leadership.
- Early intervention can effectively break the cycle of domestic violence; victims have the right to be protected.
- Offenders must be held accountable for their behavior.
- The multidisciplinary approach involves networking among key community agencies such as the police, family advocacy, medical and social services, and chaplains.
It is upon these tenets that prevention and intervention strategies are developed and implemented.
What do we know about domestic violence in the Army? While national data on domestic violence is not collected uniformly, we in the Department of the Army can actually describe, with some level of specificity, the face of domestic violence. In some ways, given the attention we have received in the press over the years, this has been both a blessing and a curse. And as the largest military service, the Army unfortunately carries the distinction of having the highest rates of abuse. We are making great strides in understanding and responding to this issue, but we know we still have work to do.
Since the establishment of the Army Central Registry in 1977, the Army has recorded 57,421 victims in confirmed cases of domestic violence. The overwhelming majority of these cases were for minor physical abuse (94 percent), 3 percent were for severe abuse and 3 percent were for emotional abuse. Of special interest is the steady increase in the number of reports -- a 30 percent increase from fiscal year 1989 (7,789) to fiscal year 1995 (10,141). It is thought that the increase can be attributed to better reporting, increased command involvement and increased community awareness.
However, the Army must operate under the assumption that the rates of abuse are, in fact, increasing, and the Army must work to address the problem. We are doing just that.
Overall spouse abuse data shows that the majority (68 percent) of spouse abuse victims are female with a surprisingly high rate of males (32 percent) as victims. Overall, this data also shows that military law enforcement accounts for the lion's share of referrals (40 percent) followed by medical/dental at 19 percent, commanders at 15 percent and self reports at 12 percent. We are encouraged by the level of confidence this shows in our system.
We are also seeing some encouraging news on the horizon concerning domestic violence rates. In the past three years, fiscal year 1993 through fiscal year 1995, we have witnessed a modest slowdown of both reports and confirmed cases. Figures show a 3 percent increase in reports and a 4 percent decrease in confirmed cases. We think our prevention and intervention efforts are beginning to yield some positive results, but, obviously, we need more empirical data.
As a general rule, the Army's case review committees substantiate about 70 percent of spouse abuse reports.
Enlisted personnel (E1-E6) account for 92 percent of all abuse cases. This is supported by general demographic data about the Army as a whole -- that our soldiers are younger, married and have children at a rate higher than their civilian counterparts, which statistically puts them at particular risk for domestic violence.
There are two interesting phenomena in our data that we need to look at more closely: the level of severity of abuse among active duty female victims married to civilians and our rate of mutual abuse.
While this data on confirmed cases provides valuable information, the Army has also been proactive in trying to determine the prevalence of unreported spouse abuse. In other words, do we really know the full extent of the problem?
The Army conducted installation needs assessments from 1990 to 1994 using a modified version of the conflict tactics scale. We are currently conducting a thorough analysis of this data to improve our treatment and prevention efforts, target high risk populations and develop informed policy decisions. ... This approach to examining the question of how much abuse really exists within our Army culture is indicative of the forthright and aggressive response to this issue.
There are two key elements of the Family Advocacy Program:
Prevention. One of the fundamental tenets of the Army's program is the implementation of prevention strategies aimed at reducing family violence. Family abuse is a community issue. A command-sponsored family advocacy committee composed of various military and civilian agencies (law enforcement, medical, social work, chaplains, nursing, child development services, youth services and command representatives) meets quarterly to develop communitywide procedures to address spouse abuse prevention and intervention.
Our key installation prevention strategies include:
- Strong command and community messages and policy letters that violence is unacceptable;
- Education programs for commanders and soldiers to include specialized reference guides such as the Family Advocacy Program commander's desk guide and noncommissioned officers' desk guide;
- New parent support programs targeted at first-time parents;
- Educational programs which strengthen marital satisfaction and personal coping, stress management, parenting, and conflict resolution skills, as well as addressing the dynamics of spouse abuse;
- Marital support programs such as the Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills Program and the Prevention Relationship Enhancement Program;
- Anger and violence management classes;
- Specialized training programs for key professionals on responding to domestic violence are available at the installation level on an ongoing basis.
- A one-week training course for military police, the Domestic Violence Intervention Course, prepares our law enforcement personnel on procedures in responding to and handling domestic violence cases.
- And the advanced training program for clinical social workers on spouse abuse.
Intervention. As in prevention, the basis of the Army's approach is the use of a multidisciplinary team to assess and intervene in domestic violence cases.
Emergency medical care, safety plans, notification to a soldier's unit commander, police intervention and social services assessment, routine referrals to safe houses and local shelters, review and substantiation by local multidisciplinary case review committees, treatment plans, recommendations concerning disciplinary actions to a soldier's commander and mandatory attendance at training sessions -- all are elements of the Army's response system.
Assessment-driven treatment assures the victim's immediate safety and long-term protection, holds the offender accountable and affixes appropriate sanctions for the offender.
Networking and coordinated involvement of key military and civilian agencies assures policies and procedures are in sync.
Domestic violence awareness workshops, anger control groups, drug and alcohol treatment, women's and men's support groups, couples groups, crisis intervention, and individual and marital counseling comprise the range of intervention services available. Our medical command has completed work on a spouse abuse manual for use by treatment social workers in an effort to standardize assessment procedures and case review committee decisions.
What have we done well? And what challenges lay ahead? We have made rather remarkable strides in this program. Chief among them:
- Data collection;
- Strong message of no tolerance;
- Early intervention;
- Commanders and chain of command knowledge and responsiveness to family advocacy;
- General community awareness and readiness to report;
- Training for all professionals -- we are especially proud of our law enforcement training course on handling domestic violence cases and our advanced clinical training for social workers;
- Multidisciplinary interagency involvement of key military and civilian professionals;
- Liaison with civilian prosecution diversion programs and battered women's shelters;
- Range of intervention strategies and services including violence management groups, gender-specific and couples groups, individual and marital counseling, mandatory attendance for the soldier at treatment and domestic violence manual for clinical staff;
- Prevention programs targeted to young couples and youth;
- Marketing the FAP -- a recent evaluation of prevention programs indicate command and community perceptions of family advocacy prevention and intervention services are more positively viewed;
- Transitional compensation for abuse victims -- financial compensation for families to offset the loss of income when the active duty offender (soldier) is incarcerated or administratively discharged.
Yet with all of these accomplishments, we have many challenges ahead.
- It is difficult to change organizational behavior, so we must continue to improve commanders' and chain of command responses to victims of domestic violence.
- We need to standardize our data collection efforts across DoD concerning definitions and counting procedures.
- We need to conduct evaluation and research on prevention and intervention approaches to determine effectiveness.
- We need to achieve more uniform decisionmaking and treatment strategies across the case review committees.
- We need to improve our victim advocacy services and responses by hiring victim advocates.
- And we need to increase the overall rate of self-referrals.
In closing, it has been personally satisfying to oversee the Army's advances in responding to domestic violence. The Family Advocacy Program has enjoyed phenomenal growth in terms of dollars and attention from senior leadership.
We will continue our vigilance as stewards and adopt management and program strategies that ensure better data analysis and provide better victim protection. We must be able to demonstrate that our interventions make a difference in soldiers' and families' lives. ...
Heath. Spouse abuse in the Department of the Navy and our society as a whole is about power and control through the use of violence. Like sexual harassment and racial discrimination, it is antithetical to the Department of the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment.
And like dealing with sexual harassment and racial discrimination, family advocacy is a leadership issue which begins with personal leadership and extends to every level of command. The secretary, CNO [chief of naval operations] and CMC [commandant, Marine Corps] have made core values the centerpiece of the naval service.
Our basic premise is that every service member is responsible for the safety, health and well-being of his or her family members.
Child and spouse abuse (which frequently coexist in abusive families) are serious behavioral, social and community problems which require a comprehensive, community-based response which goes beyond simple management of individual family violence cases.
The most effective response to family violence results when individuals, families, commands and community agencies take four important actions:
- Keep victim safety as the primary focus for all subsequent actions;
- Share responsibility for taking appropriate steps in response to acts of family violence;
- Consistently abide by and enforce family violence policies;
- Work collaboratively as a community to achieve common goals.
The Department of the Navy is currently expanding its FAP program from a multidisciplinary response team which reacts to acts of family violence to involvement of every community member and leader in creation of an environment which does not tolerate attitudes and behaviors associated with violent or abusive acts. To this end, Department of the Navy is working to establish what we call a "coordinated community response" to family violence.
Our definition of a CCR is "a multidisciplinary, highly integrated collaboration of individuals and organizations that are working together to implement consistent and appropriate responses to domestic violence throughout the community. Participating members support common goals, messages and a common understanding of the system of violence that underlies the abusive behaviors and beliefs which destroy relations and families and impose significant social and economic costs on the community at large."
Who is involved in Department of the Navy's CCR? Traditional key responders such as medical, law enforcement, legal, family service centers, family advocacy, shelters, hot lines, victim advocates, social workers and chaplains; witnesses and secondary observers such as family members, co-workers and friends, command and community leaders.
By creating a higher level of awareness throughout the entire community about the problem of domestic violence and what actions to take to prevent and respond to it, we can take important steps to create nonviolent communities.
What is Department of the Navy's common understanding of domestic violence? In over 90 percent of all cases, domestic violence is violence against women. As I said at the outset, there is a power and control dynamic that underlies most domestic violence cases. Unless there is effective intervention, domestic violence continues to escalate in frequency and severity. Many domestic violence cases also involve abuse of alcohol, use of weapons (especially in the more severe cases) and stalking.
The Navy and Marine Corps Family Advocacy programs have the five primary goals that are spelled out in the SecNav instruction issued a year ago: prevention, victim safety, offender accountability, rehabilitation, education and counseling, community accountability and responsibility for a consistent, appropriate response.
The OPNAV [chief of naval operations] FAP instruction (signed this month), the Marine Corps FAP order and various desk guides provide detailed implementation plans for how Department of the Navy will support these five goals.
Here are a few of the important actions that our Department of the Navy leaders have recently taken to get more active duty members and community leaders involved in the campaign to end family violence:
- In [Marine Corps Base] Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, [now retired Marine Corps] Lt. Gen. [Henry C.] Stackpole held an installationwide CCR training standdown. He personally delivered the opening leadership segment of that training to his officers, enlisted and civilian personnel.
- The current and immediate past commandants of the Marine Corps have regularly addressed FAP issues in their general officer symposiums. White letters linking family violence issues to core values have also been issued.
- Most recently, the sergeant major of the Marine Corps and his Marine Corps peers have asked to be in charge of domestic violence prevention programs and ... have recently initiated the MVP Program -- Mentors in Violence Prevention, a program designed to train role models throughout the Marine Corps beginning at the lance corporal level, who care about the women and children in their lives.
Top leadership support and personal involvement by the entire Navy and Marine Corps community are critical. In addition, we have just begun to explore and question the roles and responsibilities of both traditional key responders to domestic violence as well as those who witness abusive acts.
In the days ahead, Department of the Navy hopes to co-sponsor a series of multidisciplinary and leadership planning sessions to discuss how we can better organize our communities to make the necessary changes in the way we define and approach prevention and intervention to domestic violence.
We are very excited about what we continue to be able to contribute to the practice and body of knowledge about both child and spouse abuse.
What we know from experience is that we can't fix the problem of family violence alone. Therefore, community partnerships continue to be an essential element of Department of the Navy's CCR. In community partnerships, much can be gained and shared. For example:
- The Navy has recently completed the development of a state-of-the-art risk assessment instrument, which helps commanders, community partners and FAP professionals identify levels of danger and risk factors which are associated with each FAP case. Coupled with Marine Corps' response options matrix, we now believe that we can ensure a more consistent, appropriate response to victims and offenders. Already, both of these shared community leadership tools are being published and used by several state agencies and bar associations.
- On the flip side of the coin, by learning more about what works best in the civilian community, we know that we have many opportunities to make improvements in the way Department of the Navy establishes family violence coordinating councils, investigative and reporting procedures for law enforcement and medical, victim services and response protocols including safety planning and "stay-safe" planning.
We are proud to say that we have already put into place a solid system of support for commands, service and family members with regard to family violence. Our most important support system elements are our family service centers (including prevention education, victim services and advocacy, skills for living education, rehabilitation education and counseling for offenders, community information and referral, hotlines/helplines, and the 13 core programs of FSCs), new parent support programs, victim and witness assistance, medical treatment, chaplain services and programs, youth and child development programs, Mentors in Violence Prevention Program.
So where do we go from here? Rear Adm. Larry Marsh from Pers-6 [assistant chief of naval personnel for personnel readiness and community support] and Col. Ken Hillman from [Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps] will highlight Navy and Marine Corps initiatives such as:
- Programs for children who witness violence;
- Victim services;
- New parent services;
- Mentors in Violence Prevention;
- Offender assessments and more. ...
Each of their initiatives is a part of our overarching plan to create a climate of intolerance and a comprehensive coordinated community response to family violence.
We have exciting work ahead of us, and many good leaders are strongly committed and involved. The good news is that we all want to do the right thing. The hard part is that we are still trying to identify that mix of policies, protocols and programs that will produce violence-free homes and zones throughout the communities in which our service and family members live.
Our five FAP goals will serve as a compass and keep us on target. Likewise, our own unique Department of the Navy contributions, such as the Navy's risk assessment instrument and the Marine Corps' pioneering CCR efforts and Response Options Matrix, are already helping many communities around the United States.
Our future will continue to be bright with regard to the reduction of family violence so long as we work collaborative with all community members and leaders like you to accept personal and professional responsibility for stopping the violence.
Preserving families and reducing family violence are critical to maintaining the social fabric of our society. No one has cornered the market on what works and what doesn't. We can't share too much information on how to avert future crises.
Demesme. Good morning. I'm privileged to speak with you this morning on a subject that's dear to my heart. Like my colleagues, I am delighted to present Air Force philosophy on spouse abuse. This is a serious issue, which is difficult to compartmentalize because boundaries aren't clearly delineated.
I'd like to begin by taking a limited look at history. In my 25 years of experience, I've concluded that there are reasons why spouse abuse is a difficult issue to address. Let's start with what we know.
We know that: domestic violence is as old as time; spouses share [a] special bond (by law); most abused spouses are women; [there's a] reluctance to admit to outsiders that problems exist in the marriage/relationship; [the] abused spouse often feels guilty or responsible; law enforcement agencies haven't always responded positively.
We also know that it is believed that women are the property of their husbands; women must obey husband/male; women rely on men to financially support the family; women were discouraged from becoming professionals in the work place; if children are involved, how to support them is a problem. Then, there's the guilt about depriving them of father's love.
Making a bad choice: Parents used to say, "You made your bed -- now lie in it." Friends -- you must be doing something to make him mad. Try to forgive and forget first acts of violence.
Why do men abuse spouses? Many varied reasons -- low self-esteem, misplaced anger, abuse of physical power, lack of self-control, aggressive personality, drugs, alcohol, general frustration.
Why do women stay? Fear -- live or die (threats to self and/or family), feeling of helplessness, no money, nowhere to go, no skills, low self-esteem, love -- desire to help spouse change, religion -- marriage is forever.
Why it's difficult to identify and treat domestic violence: protocol -- wait for invitation to enter one's home or engage in their private affairs; intervention usually occurs after violent act; courts' personnel still believe man's home is his castle; [people] still believe some provocation exists.
There's also a question as to what's the best type of treatment -- incarceration vs. counseling. Is spouse abuse caused by an illness? -- treating the symptoms vs. treating the problem.
Finally, '70s-'80s -- safe havens established; 1993 -- Congress passed "Violence Against Women" Act. Major components of act: develop, strengthen and expand victim services; recognize need for diverse program for cultural and racial groups; ensure victims rights and protection; mandate training for law enforcement personnel to identify, investigate and prosecute domestic violence cases; and prevention.
Air Force programs correlate nicely with this law. We're doing a lot to break [the] cycle of violence. We do not tolerate spouse or child abuse. Our emphasis is on prevention and training. Our philosophy: research-based/client-centered; use bio-psychosocial assessment tools; determine and respect individual differences.
In this regard, the Air Force has an evolving flexible approach to the problem of spouse abuse. Beginning with a client-centered, customer-focused philosophy, systems theory and data showing need for diverse services for a diverse population, we have encouraged a wide range of prevention and treatment approaches. Our population is not only culturally diverse, but their needs for preventive information and clinical intervention cover a wide range.
Within the Air Force, our family advocacy goals are to educate our members and families; to raise awareness of domestic violence so that co-workers, commanders, senior NCOs and neighbors can support each other; to identify risk groups; to provide the skills and the resiliency training so that our people have the tools to help them cope with frustrations. All of these activities assist Air Force in identifying at-risk families early, to respond to their individual situations and needs, and, ultimately, to prevent the recurrence of domestic violence.
Prevention and treatment in AF MTFs [Air Force medical treatment facilities] is achieved by a core team of family advocacy providers. The team is composed of a prevention manager, treatment manager, nurse specialist, data support specialist and a family advocacy officer. Each provider brings their own experience and expertise to the team in order to develop an appropriate response to the victim's and abuser's needs. The type of intervention/assistance that is provided is based on research into the family history, race, culture and AF community with which they are associated. This enables the team to be flexible in developing assistance and treatment plans that will meet the diverse needs of our population.
Training for providers is important -- as a young social worker, I had the training. I counseled families using only my intuition and common sense analysis of the problem.
The personnel within the Air Force Family Advocacy Program work diligently to identify families experiencing domestic violence. In addition, the AF Family Advocacy Program has provided extensive state-of-the-art training for over 200 FAP staff at 85 bases. This is a significant first step in equipping our workers to intervene appropriately and timely when families need help.
Our social workers have master's degrees and the experience necessary to design the most effective treatment plans possible. We also have family advocacy outreach prevention managers to help couples learn to communicate effectively and to work as a team in solving problems. They also teach them how to manage conflict without damaging closeness and to preserve and enhance love, commitment and friendship.
We've learned that the training isn't one size fits all. It must be tailored to the individual based on cultural and sometimes ethnic backgrounds.
The most critical training needs are those designed for law enforcement personnel. Traditionally, military policemen aren't accustomed to partnering with civilians, and we might speculate that sensitivity is not their strong point. However, it is essential that these officials work closely with our health care providers when investigating domestic violence. While spouse abuse is a crime punishable by law, it is also a crime wherein emotions run higher than usual. Joint training for law officials and FAP managers is an option to be explored.
The team also must provide assistance and education to the batterer -- to stop the violence, the team has to intervene with the children, who, even if they are not physically abused and only witness their mother's abuse, are more likely to exhibit violent behavior as children and as adults. Domestic violence is self-perpetuating.
We are here today to discuss our achievements and to learn from our sister service[s]. We want our combined efforts to become a model that leads to the cessation of domestic violence within our communities. ...
Victims must feel safe and secure when they call for help. In the future, we will focus more on building teams that include all human resource professionals, that include social workers, teachers (educators), psychologists (mental health), chaplains, law enforcement, lawyer and commanders. We must also develop MOUs [memoranda of understanding] with the local community agencies.
As I prepared remarks for today, I realized things haven't changed much in the last 20 years. I want to read a statement that I wrote in a grants proposal prepared in 1978. It was used to document the need for a domestic violence demonstration grant.
"The reluctance of society to recognize that domestic violence is a serious problem and adversely affects families and communities has resulted in inconsistent laws, ineffective intervention in families, improper treatment by social agencies, and invariably an increase in the extent of the problem. Hopefully, greater awareness of the subject coupled with systematic training of professionals will heighten community education and involvement which will decrease the occurrence of family violence."
This statement is just as true today as it was when it was written. We must mobilize all other community resources, such as the family service centers, employment agencies, education counselors and the Air Force Aid Society to build a comprehensive network of opportunities to keep our families remain healthy and happy.
Before I conclude, a recent news story has thrust domestic violence further into the spotlight. Actor Harry Morgan, best known for his role as Col. Sherman Potter in the television series "M*A*S*H," was charged with beating his wife. This proves that domestic violence is not only a military issue. Domestic violence cuts through race, class, economic background and upbringing. We must never forget that domestic violence is a global problem which must be addressed.
I challenge each of you to share your thoughts and ideas so that your collective wisdom can be used to help the services eliminate domestic violence. I pledge to garner the resources to help you in this regard. Together, we can make a difference.
Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/index.html.