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Prevention means knowing warning signs of domestic violence

October 21, 2013


Image by Leslie Brians, USAG Schweinfurt Public Affairs

Identification is key to preventing domestic violence. USAG Schweinfurt's Family Advocacy Program manager explains how you can recognize the signs and seek help.

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — You could be a victim of domestic abuse. You may even suspect it. Or heightened stress levels may even make you susceptible to make bad decisions. But you can prevent domestic violence, according to the program manager here aimed at curbing family violence.

As more and more Soldiers and families prepare for their permanent changes of duty station as a result of the eventual closure of the garrison here, they may experience escalated stressors, making them more vulnerable to domestic violence, said Schweinfurt’s Family Advocacy Program Manager, Sara McCauley.

Sara McCauley represents the Family Advocacy Program, which is a congressionally mandated program intended to prevent and reduce the occurrence of family violence and create an environment of intolerance for such behavior.

Prevention is key, she said, and she encourages people to know the signs and seek help.

FEELING STRESSED? WHAT YOU CAN DO.

“One option for someone feeling like they are getting stressed or at-risk for being abused or being abusive is to come to [Army Community Service] or Behavioral Health. ACS has Couples Communication and Anger Management classes. Our team at ACS can work to help people get back on track before it becomes a tragic situation,” said McCauley.

Another option that McCauley recommends to Soldiers feeling extra-stressed is to ask their command about a 72-hour “cool down” period.

“It can be done without consequences, without anything going into the Soldier’s record. ACS can help coordinate that with command, too,” she said.

“If we are concerned for whatever reason, because we can’t remove the spouse from housing, the command can remove the Soldier and provide a little cool down period. Since we do have recent re-deployed Soldiers and there can be tension, we’re here to help relieve that tension before it escalates,” said McCauley.

VICTIM? SUSPECT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? WHAT YOU CAN DO.

You don’t have to be a victim to report domestic abuse. If you suspect it, report it, McCauley said. The most immediate method of reporting actual or suspected abuse is to call Schweinfurt's Military Police at DSN 354-6766/6624, CIV 09721-96-6766/6624.

 
  Photo by Sidney Harris, USAG Schweinfurt Public Affairs

Sarah McCauley, Schweinfurt's Family Advocacy Program manager.

Preventing and stopping violence among family members begins with picking up clues of domestic violence.

Signs indicating potential abuse include one spouse withholding money as a way for offenders to control their spouse. More obvious signs include verbal abuse.

“A big red flag should be raised if you feel fearful or intimidated by your spouse or if you feel belittled on a regular basis. Certainly, if there is any kind of physical force used, that is a huge red flag,” she said. 

The majority of domestic violence cases in the Schweinfurt community stem from a couple getting into a scuffle, which consists of a little shoving or some harsh words used. However, this type of situation can escalate into a larger problem when the physical violence worsens or when kids witness any kind of physical altercation.

“People need to know that if they’re getting into physical scuffles or fights in front of their kids, they can meet criteria for emotional child abuse,” said McCauley.

Another warning sign is when a person falls into isolation because an abuser may not want the victim to connect with another person — yet another means of control by the offender. If you know someone who fits that description, reach out to them, invite them to a park and open up dialogue, McCauley said.

“It’s important to offer that spouse your support. Even if it’s just asking ‘Are you ok? Do you want to talk?’ That can open the dialogue for services,” said McCauley.

Another sign that McCauley says is common with abusers is the threat to commit suicide as a means of control.

“The offender will say something along the lines of ‘if you leave me, I’ll kill myself,’ and so that becomes a manipulative tool for someone to stay in an abusive relationship,” McCauley said.

A community member who is threatened or feels threatened can go to Schweinfurt's Army Community Service on Ledward Barracks Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or call DSN 354-6933, CIV 09721-96-6933 and speak directly with Ms. McCauley.

Community members also have the option to speak to Tiffanie McDonough, the Victim Advocate, who is available 24/7 at 0162-271-1413. Both options are completely confidential.

For more on reporting abuse or suspected abuse in Schweinfurt, click here.


Story by Tina MacDonald and Nathan Van Schaik, USAG Schweinfurt Public Affairs


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