GROTON, Conn. - October is Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Although preventing domestic abuse within our military community is something we strive to do year-round, this month provides a time for advocacy groups and community organizations to focus their efforts on bringing awareness to the issue of domestic violence. This year, the pandemic environment has created new challenges and barriers to victims of abuse, making this month’s message even more poignant. Social distancing and isolation in our homes, though necessary to fight COVID-19, can be extremely dangerous for those experiencing abuse. Being in close proximity to abusers, having limited access to friends, family and support services and new dynamics around dependency, all make leaving abusive relationships that much more difficult for victims. Our Naval Submarine Base New London community must remain committed to a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to intimate partner violence, domestic violence and domestic abuse. There are ways to support victims from a safe distance during these unprecedented times.
If you know someone at risk for domestic abuse during this time of increased isolation, use the following tips to help keep them safe:
Perhaps speaking on the phone is no longer safe as their time away from the abuser is limited. What other platforms can you use to stay in touch? Brainstorm different messaging apps or even use a game with a messaging feature. Remember that safety considerations can change rapidly, so always make sure that you are utilizing their preferred method of communication.
Once you identify the preferred way to connect, make sure you are touching base regularly. Let the person know you are there for them and get creative in ways you can provide assistance to them. You can come up with a code word, phrase or emoji that can be used as a signal that you need to call them to interrupt an escalating argument or perhaps you need to call the police on their behalf. Staying in touch will help them feel less isolated and alone.
Being a listening ear can be very powerful for a victim of abuse and can help them to gain the confidence they need to ask for help. Reassure them that they are not alone and that there are resources available to help them. Help for victims is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If someone is concerned about their safety and in need of immediate support, they can call the National Domestic Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or chat with an advocate online at thehotline.org.
Anyone can become a victim of abuse and it is never a victim’s fault. The military community respects, defends and supports victims of domestic abuse. The Family Advocacy Program (FAP), located at the Fleet and Family Support Center, is one of the many resources available to someone in our Subase community struggling with domestic abuse, intimate partner violence and/or unhealthy relationships. Contact the FAP Victim Advocate for more information at (860) 694-2413 or (901) 671-7596.
Throughout the month of October, keep an eye on the Fleet and Family Support (FFSC) Center New London Facebook page for more information about domestic violence prevention. On Oct. 28, there will be a free virtual training on risk factors of domestic violence in the context of military families and COVID-19 as well as healthy ways to resolve conflict in relationships. For more information and to register, contact Julianna Hamor at firstname.lastname@example.org .
a. Domestic Violence Prevention (DVP) Training Mobile Application. The Navy’s DVP app is a mobile training and resource tool that provides easy access to information and training. More information is available at:
b. OPNAV 21st Century Sailor Office, Family Advocacy:
c. CNIC Family Advocacy Program: https://www.cnic.navy.mil/ffr/family_readiness/fleet_and_family_support_program/family_advocacy.html
d. The National Domestic Violence Hotline:
1-800 779-SAFE (7233) or: http://www.thehotline.org/
e. Fleet and Family Support Center, New London: (860) 694-4875
f. Military OneSource: www.militaryonesource.mil