SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
The Peterson Air Force Base Family Advocacy Program hosted their second-annual Domestic Violence Awareness month bowling tournament, "Strike-Out Domestic Violence" at the Bowling Center on Peterson AFB, Colorado, Oct. 1.
According to Angela Lenn, 21st Medical Group Family Advocacy Program assistant, around 50 members from both Schriever and Peterson AFBs supported the bowling event.
Kim Lee Vehige, 21st Family Advocacy Program Intervention Specialist talked about the collaborative efforts to make the tournament a reality.
“The intent of the bowling tournament is to raise awareness that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and to highlight resources available,” she said. “It’s also super fun and a great way to connect and collaborate in our communities, both at Peterson and Schriever. The Peterson FAP does all the organizing for the event, but Schriever Shirts and other Schriever personnel are our main supporters of the event.”
Jessica Ditson, 50th Space Wing Violence Prevention Integrator, defined ‘intimate partner violence,’ another term for domestic violence.
“Healthy relationships are vital,” she said. “Without a clear idea of what intimate partner violence can look like (emotional abuse, financial abuse, threats of physical violence, or sexual violence) it can be hard to intervene or identify the characteristics in a relationship you may be part of.”
According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community regardless of economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or nationality.
“Domestic violence remains a very stigmatized and taboo subject that is still very underreported,” said Monica Ibarra, 21st Medical Group Family Advocacy Program intervention specialist. “Bringing awareness is important to help victims come forward. We, as a community, have to be able to discuss difficult and uncomfortable subjects to make a positive impact.”
Ibarra elaborated on the family advocacy program services at Peterson Air Force Base.
“We assist families based on their individual circumstances and needs,” she said. “We have social workers who provide individual, marital and family therapy; we also have a victim advocate and a nurse who runs our New Parent Support Program.”
Ibarra highlighted the proactive nature of the FAP and its emphasis on early intervention.
“Most people don’t realize that we are also a prevention program,” she said. “We want to intervene as early as possible to help families get back on track, and we want people to know the signs of maltreatment to empower them to get out of a potentially harmful relationship.”
The Peterson AFB FAP is part of the 21st Medical Group at the Peterson AFB’s Mental Health Clinic. It also serves Schriever AFB and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station and works closely with their partners to ensure services are standardized.
“Building strong relationships with people is key for any program; we need to ensure a level of safety and comfort with Airmen, we know how important that is,” Ibarra said. “We get out to Schriever as often as we can for various activities, outreach, etc., to help build awareness for our program and foster relationships.”
Ditson said Schriever AFB and Peterson AFB work together to support Airmen in the battle against domestic violence.
The FAP is working to get office space at Schriever so Airmen can have ease of access to their services. They expect to be present on base at least a few times each week, Ibarra said.
Ditson highlighted the importance of being a good Wingman and reminded help is available to those seeking to get out of a toxic relationship or those helping a loved one do the same.
“Make sure that your language and actions support an environment of trust and connection so people feel safe disclosing they need help,” she said. “Help them decide the best course of action and know leaving domestic violence situations can be very dangerous. You don’t have to do this alone, reach out to resources to support the next steps to safety.”
Ibarra explained FAP services are available for individuals (not just families) and they are completely confidential.
“Much like the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, we do have a restricted reporting option for victims of domestic violence,” she said. “If there’s ever any question about disclosure obligations, an Airmen can always call us anonymously and ask hypothetical questions. It is very important to us that a victim has autonomy over the outcome of his/her own situation as much as possible.”
For more information about the Peterson AFB FAP program, call 719-567-4357 (HELP) extension six for family advocacy program, option one for the main office; option two for the domestic abuse victim advocate.
Call 800-799-7233 (SAFE) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
If you are being harmed or need to report a domestic violence incident, call 911.