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JBSA News
NEWS | Oct. 13, 2011

Family advocacy program combats domestic violence

By Alex Salinas 502nd Air Base OL-B Public Affairs

Mitzi Wood, 359th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy intervention specialist, has been a helping hand during Domestic Violence Awareness month in October for years.

And every year, the message remains untouched.

"We need to bring awareness to issues of violence in intimate relationships," Wood said.

However, while the goal of domestic violence awareness is generally understood, people are still uncertain how to act and use the proper resources in facing relationship issues.

Wood welcomes couples on behalf of Randolph's Family Advocacy program for those at risk or who are already experiencing domestic violence.

"We're not investigators or police," she said. "We're clinicians and therapists, and we're here to make sure that intimate relationships remain healthy and safe."

According to Wood, a victim of domestic violence has the right to pursue a case against their partner, whether they are active duty or not, and reminded that Family Advocacy has prevention and maltreatment programs, meaning they accept cases regardless if violence has played a role or not.

This proactive approach to awareness is paramount for Wood, as well as the national campaign.

Domestic Violence Awareness was first observed in October 1987 and focuses on bringing awareness to violent relationships among couples to prevent violence from happening and to promote the importance of healthy relationships.

"Family Advocacy treats intimate relationships and all couples, married or not, the same way," Wood said. "In the military, whether the active duty member is the offender or the victim of domestic violence, it affects their job and they need help."

Domestic violence has four components: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Cases do not have to have to meet all four components to be considered domestic violence; any one has the potential to destroy a relationship.

Family Advocacy evaluates the severity and impact of each case they receive as well as educating and treating victims of abuse. The key for couples to avoid or resolve their situation is recognizing the warning signs, and then acting upon them, Wood said.

"What affects one couple may not affect another," she said. "For example, society easily recognizes physical violence and understands how to address it. But society has trouble recognizing and understanding emotional abuse. People who are emotionally abused tend not to act upon it because they can't prove it - it's invisible, but it exists."

From Nov. 18-20, a couples retreat for post-deployers and their partners will occur for the purpose of their reintegration back into society and will "allow couples time to spend with each other, communicate and strengthen their relationship," Wood said. Family Advocacy and the Airman and Family Readiness Center are organizing the retreat. To sign up, call A&FRC at 652-5321.

For those interested in using resources provided by Family Advocacy, please call 652-6308, or visit them at Bldg. 860. Wood and Capt. Amanda Hardy, 359th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy officer, are available for appointment and help.

"We'd rather people come voluntarily before there is an issue," Wood said.

For victims of domestic violence living in Bexar County, the Bexar County Family Justice Center is located downtown at 527 N. Leona St., and can be reached at 208-6800. Their hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and those visiting to sign-up or by referral should go between 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at (800) 799-7233 and their website is www.thehotline.org.