Domestic abuse: help is available

  • Published
  • By Sherry Dickson
  • Family Advocacy Domestic Abuse Advocate
Eglin’s Family Advocacy Program offers prevention and intervention to military families who have experienced or are at risk of domestic abuse. One valuable resource offered by the program is the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate.

The DAVA provides services to adult victims of domestic abuse. Recently, the DAVA’s role expanded to provide supportive services to adult non-offending caregivers of children who experience abuse.  All services are non-clinical, voluntary and free.

The DAVA provides comprehensive services and referrals including: safety planning; risk assessment; relocation and protective order assistance; accompaniments to court proceedings and prevention education.

A DoD assessment of DAVA services conducted in 2005 showed victims who worked with an advocate knew more about their rights, options and community services.  Victims developed a safety plan to use to prevent future incidents of violence and became more comfortable asking for help in the future.  They also became more hopeful about their future and felt less alone throughout the process of seeking help.

Domestic violence can take many forms other than physical violence. It may include put-downs; coercion and threats; controlling or dominant behavior; extreme jealousy or insecurity; explosive temper that is shown almost exclusively behind closed doors; isolation from family and friends; and possessiveness.

Other forms of domestic abuse include: withholding of medical care and financial information, a phone, or even a means of communication.

Domestic violence affects everyone in the home. Children may show symptoms of anxiety; sleeplessness; nightmares; difficulty concentrating; increased aggression; separation anxiety and intense worry about the safety of a parent.

Long term effects, especially with chronic exposure, include: physical health problems; behavioral problems in adolescence, such as delinquency and substance abuse; and emotional difficulties in adulthood, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorders.

For more information, or to seek help and support, contact the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate and the Family Advocacy Program at 883-8616/8615 or call the hotline at (850) 290-7389.  DAVA services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.