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Intimate partner violence present on Eglin

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Now that I have everyone’s attention, I trust that headline was as disappointing to read as it was to write, but it’s the truth.

According to data reported by the Family Advocacy Program, there were 217 referred cases of intimate partner violence involving Eglin Airmen in fiscal year 2016.

From a major command perspective, Eglin carries approximately 25 percent of all Air Force Materiel Command’s intimate partner violence cases.

Intimate partner violence is about power and control.  It is associated with abusive behaviors.  One is sexual abuse, which includes any unwanted touch or pressure to complete a sexual act. It can also include threat of physical harm.

Intimate partner violence may also include intimidation and emotional abuse to include degrading comments or insults.  It can happen through isolating a victim, “blowing up their phone,” and controlling behavior in various areas of their life.

Intimate partner violence doesn’t discriminate by age, religion, race or socioeconomic status.  It can stem from emotional, sexual, psychological, physical or financial problems.

The effects of intimate partner violence is not limited to the relationship.  They can also affect an Airman’s job performance, his or her co-workers and ultimately the unit’s mission.

In addition to the individuals directly affected by intimate partner violence, this article is intended for the rest of us with the ability and responsibility to acknowledge, respond to and even prevent this very real issue.

For parents, discussing intimate partner violence with their teenagers is imperative.  We cannot assume a teen knows what is right or wrong, what is healthy and not healthy, or what is and isn’t normal behavior.

It’s important to have a discussion in a neutral place away from distractions so parents and teens can listen in a respectful manner.  Establishing an atmosphere of trust free from judgment is crucial.

Sometimes teens send covert signals they want to talk to parents by trying to get them alone in a car or hanging around the parent without saying much.  Anytime a teen wants to talk, parents should drop whatever they are doing and be that listening ear.

Parents who need help starting this conversation with their teens, can start at http://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/teendvmonth/

For commanders and leaders, here’s another unacceptable fact: not all units have the supportive climate essential in identifying and helping Airmen.  Organizations are encouraged to establish a climate that fosters a positive environment and is conducive to asking for help. Commanders and leaders should be prepared to respond, know what resources are available and post helpful information in their units.

Co-workers are encouraged to recognize their team members’ potential trouble signs and position themselves to help.   Become the type of Wingman who fosters trust and confidence and knows what to do when approached with this and other issues.  Also, know reporting procedures and available resources.

A simple question such as “how are things going?” can be a conversation starter.  Good follow-on questions can be more specific about the expectations, notions and culture of intimate partner from their perspective.

Following a discussion, ask questions, like if they have seen any kind of abusive behavior between fellow Airmen or friends who are intimate partner, why they think the abuse is happening and why people would stay in an abusive relationship.  The answers can be surprising!

The DoD has a zero tolerance policy concerning intimate partner violence. So what can you do to support this policy?  Everyone has a role to play, whether directly, or by delegating.  Live the Green Dot!

There is plenty of information available to help answer questions and offer assistance to those who need help, but we also have to care enough to get involved against intimate partner violence.

For more information, call 883-8616; the National Coalition Against Intimate Partner Violence, 1-800-44ABUSE, the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate 24/7 at (850)-290-7389; or visit www.militaryonesource.com.