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NEWS | Nov. 7, 2013

JBSA-Randolph Family Advocacy conducts 'black eye' experiment

By Airman 1st Class Alexandria Slade Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

The Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Advocacy program conducted its first "black eye" project Oct. 25, a social experiment to assess public and personal reaction to signs of abuse, as part of the Domestic Violence Awareness Month campaign.

During the project, several test subjects were given obvious signs of physical abuse in the form of fake bruising, along with a set of hand-out cards explaining the exercise and its purpose. Participants went about their day normally, giving a card to those who ask about the "bruising," and then recorded the reactions they received.

The goal of this experiment was to see how many people would vocally acknowledge the problem, approach the simulated victim and direct the participants to domestic abuse resources and other services.

According to Emily Mueller, JBSA-Randolph Family Advocacy intervention specialist, physical evidence of abuse tends to make people very uncomfortable, which she said was proven true during the experiment.

"We hoped the amount of people offering advice would be better here than in the civilian world because everyone is consistently being briefed on family advocacy and speaking up in the military," Capt. Amanda Hardy, 359th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy officer, said. "You can ask people all day what they would do about a domestic abuse situation, but the real test comes when they are actually confronted with this kind of situation."

While not surprised to find that strangers seemed to have some difficulty addressing the obvious bruises, Hardy said the participants and project coordinators were stunned to find that some people who knew the simulated victims failed to speak up about their condition.

"Although this project used very obvious signs of physical abuse, there are other kinds as well," Hardy said. "Emotional abuse and neglect are also signs of abuse and you should notice people in those situations too, help them, not just when there are bruises. Be a true wingman, check in and offer helpful resources."

For more information on domestic violence resources offered through JBSA Family Advocacy, call 292-5967. To reach the Domestic Violence Hotline, call 367-1213.