Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Asking the tough questions

by 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Senior Airman Jessica Hines

11/1/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- At first you don't think much of it; you might actually laugh at the reactions you get. After a while, the stares start to get to you, so you hang your head low and avoid making eye contact or walking through crowds.

This was a glimpse of my day with a black eye. Moulaged that morning as part of the Black Eye Campaign by the Family Advocacy Clinic, it was how Kunsan observed Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

"What we're hoping to see is that people take notice and are able to ask the tough questions to see if their Wingmen are ok," said Capt. Sharise Bijou, 8th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy officer.

The clinic discretely asked for volunteers as to not give away the objective for the campaign: to measure real-world responses of Wolf Pack members and see if they could "ask the tough questions."

"This is not just a spousal problem, it's not just a women's problem," said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Lively, NCO in charge of Family Advocacy. "Domestic violence can affect anyone and we want to make sure people know where to get help if they ever find themselves or a friend a victim of domestic violence."

For five days, the clinic moulaged black eyes and bruises on volunteers and then sent them into their work centers, asking that the volunteers provided feedback on their experiences.

At the beginning of the week, most participants experienced joking, avoiding eye contact or just staring.

At first, admittedly, I couldn't help but smile when I walked through crowded areas such as the food court or Starbucks, knowing I had a black eye painted on me.

Then, I started to run into my friends, some of whom almost had heart attacks upon seeing me. To them, I give a heartfelt apology for putting them through that.

The morning dragged on and I almost forgot it was there, keeping busy and taking care of everyday tasks. A couple people would stare and wonder, and a few others stepped up to ask what happened and if I was ok.

With that, I'm confident I would easily be able to find support if I was a victim of domestic violence.

However, I learned a much bigger lesson about domestic violence looking at the world from behind the bruise.

It was easy to anticipate the reaction of my friends and co-workers. It wasn't easy to guess who would approach you outside of that. Who had the courage to approach me? Who would just stare? What would you do?

I found myself turning my head away from people so they couldn't see it, or waiting till the hallway was less crowded to make my way to the restroom.

There was a point in the day when I just didn't want to deal with it anymore, and was tempted to wash it off. I thought about what a victim of domestic violence must feel like, having to live day to day with the inward and outward bruises of abuse.

According to the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, domestic violence includes:
· physical abuse (domestic violence)
· verbal or nonverbal abuse (psychological abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse)
· sexual abuse
· stalking or cyberstalking
· economic abuse or financial abuse
· spiritual abuse

AAETS also identifies a series of warning signs, which can reasonably point to domestic abuse:
· Bruises and other signs of impact on the skin, with the excuse of "accidents"
· Depression, crying
· Frequent and sudden absences
· Frequent lateness
· Frequent, harassing phone calls to the person while they are at work
· Fear of the partner, references to the partner's anger
· Decreased productivity and attentiveness
· Isolation from friends and family
· Insufficient resources to live (money, credit cards, car)

If you or someone you know has been a victim of domestic violence, contact your local Family Advocacy Clinic, first sergeant or supervisor.

While it may not always be a domestic violence case, asking the "tough questions" could make all the difference to someone.

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