Base CO addresses domestic violence Marines, civilian-Marines support awareness effort --
Military and civilian officials gathered at Marine and Family Services here Oct. 1 to show their support for national Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
After opening remarks by Col. C.N. Haliday, commanding officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., two local organizations and one individual were honored for their work in helping domestic violence victims
“Domestic violence is a very real, serious and difficult issue, but through increased awareness, education, counseling and, when warranted, prosecution, we can reduce and eliminate it in our community,” said Haliday.
While the goal of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is to raise awareness of the problem, those involved with it on a regular basis point to domestic violence as a root cause of other crimes.
"We work to be out of work. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon. The key to a lot of this is prevention because when we have murders and rapes and child molestation, it comes from domestic violence,” said Sybil Collins, director, Victim’s Services, Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office
The DA’s office was recognized at the event along with a local battered women’s shelter and a government investigator based here.
“The trends are up in Dougherty County and everywhere I read statistics. In Albany, we deal with about 100-150 cases a month of domestic violence and child abuse. We have a lot of domestic violence in Dougherty County that needs to be addressed,” added Collins.
She cited common behaviorial patterns of someone in a domestic violence situation and how domestic violence can become a revolving door.
“Our biggest problem is the women, when they are violated, when they are abused and they don’t have anywhere to go. They have no money, so they go back into it (the relationship) again and it’s just a vicious cycle,” she stated. “Then, the children grow up seeing that and it just goes on and on.”
Officials at the ceremony familiar with domestic violence cases all but understand the importance of educating the public about the problem.
“I’d be happy if this event was never held again and I had no job security. But with today’s stressors that are increasing, the trends are going up, not down,” said Jamie Hurst, victim’s advocate, Marine and Family Services, Marine Corps Community Services, MCLB Albany.
“We’re doing better than we were years ago when the problem wasn’t brought to the forefront,” she added.
Military personnel and civilians faced with domestic violence issues have a variety of services available to them.
“I think our services available here (at MCLB Albany) are awesome. And our connections with services available outside the gate mean if we don’t have them on-base, we can go outside to find them,” added Hurst.
The problem of domestic violence, in its many forms, exists in both civilian and military communities.
“It’s the kind of cases we’re going to continue to have, things that have to be addressed head on. You’ve got to give assurances to your victims and families that they are safe. That’s the main thing. Then you proceed through the criminal justice system with the suspect and turn over the facts to the command,” said Murray Strait, senior resident agent, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, MCLB Albany.
Strait was honored for the domestic violence work he has done in the eight years he’s been based at MCLB Albany. He’s slated for a new duty assignment early next year.
Another local law enforcement official at the ceremony echoed the problems of eliminating domestic violence in today’s society.
“We’ve got to educate before we can eliminate. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re ever going to eliminate, but we’ll work closely with the Advocacy Center here and I’m involved in the child abuse protocol for the entire county,” said Don Cheek, chief, Dougherty County Police Department.
While the law enforcement community deals with the legal and educational aspects of the problem, Silke Deeley, executive director, Liberty House of Albany, a shelter for battered women, see’s the problem face-to-face.
“The most common cause why a woman (and her children) comes to Liberty House is because their lives are threatened by their abusers,” she explained.
“I think we’re seeing more and more victims of domestic violence. The reason for that is that we haven’t held batterers accountable. The laws aren’t strong enough and there are way too many loopholes. Cases get pled down and we leave victims exposed to their batterers,” she concluded.
The question of how much is enough when assembling resources to combat domestic violence, usually brings a consensus that more is always the best option.
“I think what we have on the base is working well, but I think we could use more resources. That’s probably true with everybody. We have great connections with resources in the community and that’s why we wanted to honor the organizations that we did today. We owe it to them,” said Donna Mahnken, manager, Family Advocacy Program, Marine and Family Services.
Mahnken also said, “One of the primary causes of domestic violence is a learned behavior from childhood that carries on into adulthood. Children exposed to domestic violence growing up are more likely to become victims or abusers when they become adults. Certainly there are other reasons, but that’s one of the most significant factors associated with domestic abuse.”
For more information on domestic violence and where to go for help, call the Family Advocacy and Victim Advocacy Program at (229) 639-5252/7938.