National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

CG FAP DVAM Flyer (2)

“Domestic violence impacts children, families and mission readiness”

In Public Law 101-112, signed in 1989, Congress designated October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in four women and one in 10 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Additionally, millions of children will be exposed to domestic violence each year. Within the military departments, domestic violence continues to be a main public health concern and has received much national attention. The Washington Post recently released an article highlighting the rising rate of domestic violence, especially child neglect, within the military. Within the Coast Guard, data from the Central Registry has shown an increase of domestic violence incidents over the past several years. While it is difficult to believe that such high domestic violence rates exist in our advanced and civilized society, the disheartening fact is that people still turn to violence as a solution, which affects every person at every stage of development.

Infants and small children who have been exposed to violence in the home are more likely to have emotional stress that may have impeded brain development and impaired cognitive and sensory growth. Young children who have been victimized may exhibit behavioral changes such as sleep problems, tantrums, emotional distress, excessive irritability, fear of being alone, immature behavior, and difficulty meeting normal developmental milestones. These children are at greater risk for becoming perpetrators or victims of domestic violence, substance dependence, unwanted juvenile pregnancy and other criminal behavior later in life (1).

Within the family, the core of domestic violence is one intimate partner exerting control over another using various forms of control, intimidation, threats, insults, and assault that may result in severe psychological damage. Intimate partners who experienced domestic violence often report experiencing depression (2), which places them at a higher risk for suicide (3). Along with depression, these individuals may also exhibit symptoms indicative of posttraumatic stress disorder (4).

A family with domestic violence is not a safe and nurturing family, and it cannot support healthy growth and development. Furthermore, domestic violence is not congruent with Coast Guard core values. As a military department that prides itself on the motto Semper Paratus or Always Ready, domestic violence within the Coast Guard erodes our mission readiness capability. Now is the time to come together and end domestic violence for our children, families, and our Coast Guard.

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Early detection is key in the prevention of domestic violence. Coast Guard personnel and families are encouraged to access services through the Family Advocacy Program, a program designed to prevent maltreatment within family and intimate partner relationships, assist commands in addressing incidents of maltreatment, and to mitigate the effects of maltreatment incidents on mission readiness where possible.

The Coast Guard now has a restricted reporting option for active duty and dependent victims. This policy allows Family Advocacy Specialists, medical providers or victim advocates across the Coast Guard to assist survivors without initiating command and law enforcement notification.

Visit the Family Advocacy Program for more information.

For additional resources, please consider these programs and services:

For assistance with related problems and other life challenges, including work-life balance, healthy living, fulfilling relationships, recovery, financial stability, mental health, and legal assistance, contact the confidential CG SUPRT Program at 1-855-CGSUPRT (1-855-247-8778).

Coast Guard Chaplain Corps at 1-855-USCG-CHC, 855-872-4242.

U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

[1] Osofsky, Joy D. (1999). The Impact of Violence on Children, The Future of Children – Domestic Violence and Children, 9, 3-10.

[2] Barnett, O.W. (2000). Why battered women do not leave, part 1: External inhibiting factors within society. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 1, 343-372.

[3] Fischbach, R.L. & Herbert, B. (1997). Domestic Violence and Mental Health: Correlates and Conundrums Within and Across Cultures. Social Science Medicine, 45, 1161-1176.

[4] Vitanza, S., Vogel, L.C., & Marshall, L.L. (1995). Distress and Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Abused Women. Violence and Victims, 10, 23-34.

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