By Bardia Khajenoori
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart
The month of October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), a national observance held annually since the late 1980s.
“Domestic violence is an issue where, if it’s not on your radar, you may not realize it’s happening in your community,” said April Plumley, Family Advocacy Program manager at Army Community Service (ACS). “DVAM is important to our community because it’s the time we focus on raising awareness and letting everyone know that there are resources for victims.”
Preventative services in the area of domestic violence and child abuse, along with victim advocacy support, are provided through the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) at ACS, while the FAP Clinic (located within the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic) offers treatment services. ACS FAP can refer clients to the clinic as needed, as well as to resources like the Army Substance Abuse Program. Services related to domestic violence and child abuse are open to all community members.
Domestic violence reporting can be restricted or unrestricted, as desired by the victim. Both provide full access to counseling, medical care, and victim advocacy services but have different implications for privacy and command/law enforcement involvement, including protection options.
The strongest correlation with domestic violence and child abuse incidents is stress, as well as alcohol, said Plumley. “Maybe it’s finances, relationship issues like infidelity, or the chaos of a PCS, but you’re more likely to have an abuse incident happen in highly stressful situations.”
Impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have added additional stressors and new constraints. “Conditions of isolation and quarantine can contribute to domestic violence and also create a greater challenge of reaching out for services. It also limits your options to leave an abusive relationship,” said Plumley. “We have continued to offer our services despite COVID-19 and want to remind victims that even though conditions are different, we can still offer a shelter if someone’s in a situation where they might not be safe at home.”
FAP will hold several events in conjunction with the national observance, starting with a proclamation signing by Col. Jason Condrey, garrison commander, at the Panzer Mall on October 2. Couples can learn more about achieving mutual financial goals in a class held at ACS on October 22, and about positive communication strategies in a free visit to a ropes course on October 24. Register by the deadlines of October 16 and 17, respectively, by contacting ACS.
“With people being so isolated right now, we want to remind everyone to check on others. Just reach out and see how they’re doing, especially if you think they might be in an unhealthy relationship,” said Plumley. “FAP is here for victims.”