by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
10/26/2012 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- When punches are thrown, feelings are bruised and a family is crushed, violence within the home becomes a sobering subject.
Domestic violence has the power to seep into any household within the
Fairchild community, according to Fairchild's Domestic Abuse Victim
Advocate, Janet Bunn. Educating the community is the key to preventing
"Recognizing the signs of domestic violence and having the tools to
intervene are vital in the fight against domestic abuse," she said.
"Teaching people how and when to approach the subject with a suspected
victim is one of the tools needed and then following with what to say
and what not to say to the suspected victim. Remember the goal is to get
the victim safe whether they stay or leave the relationship."
How it begins
The cycle of domestic violence can be just one day or it may escalate
over a period of weeks or months depending upon the relationship.
"Victims never get hit or punched on the first date," said Bunn.
"Controlling behavior can start very subtly. The relationship can be
rushed and the boundaries within it are determined by the controller."
Domestic violence begins with the formation of an unhealthy
relationship, meaning without shared responsibility, economic
partnership, respect, negotiation and fairness, honesty and
accountability, trust and support, according to Bunn, who describes
abusive relationships as a three part cycle.
Cycle of abuse
Though each relationship is different, the three parts of the abusive cycle are usually consistent.
The first part is the tension-building phase, where friction is built
within the home over money, children, jobs, or anything the abuser
wishes to use. Abuse usually begins verbally until reaching a climax.
This is when phase two - physical violence (explosive incident) occurs.
The honeymoon is the last phase, which manifests as an expression of
remorse by the abuser portraying a kind, loving behavior with apologies,
helpfulness and generosity, promising the abuse will never happen
again, although some victims describe never having a third phase. Keep
in mind, to the outside world the abuser appears to be a great parent,
spouse, employee and family member. The first thing the neighbors say to
the media after a murder or suicide is, "The family looked so happy,
"We never know what goes on behind closed doors," Bunn said.
Breaking the cycle
The cycle of abuse will continue until the victim makes the decision to
leave or circumstances makes the decision for them. Often when the
abuser starts to direct anger and abuse toward children or someone
intervenes, sometimes a concerned co-worker, neighbor or family member
suspects an environment of domestic violence and takes action, referring
the family to Family Advocacy. There, families can discover their
stressors and ways in which they can deal with them other than abuse
with a variety of classes and counseling, Fairchild's Family Advocacy
Officer Capt. Zarah Davis said.
"If you know how to open the subject with the individual, talk to them,"
added Davis. "Find out if they are safe or if someone in their home is
hurting them. Talk to the victim about getting help and offer to make
the call. If you need guidance on what to say and how to say it, call
Janet Bunn 24/7 at (509) 481-9025. She will help you and your friend
directly. There are resources available for victims of domestic
Forms of abuse
Bunn helped explain the differences between the forms of physical and
emotional abuse saying, "You don't have to be physically abused to be a
victim of domestic violence."
Examples of physical violence such as hitting, kicking, shoving,
punching, grabbing or even biting are easy to identify, Bunn said.
Harder to report and recover from are emotional, verbal, and mental
abuse involving degradation or belittlement, interrogation or isolation
from family members and friends. Sexual abuse (sex without consent with
one's partner/spouse is against the law), animal abuse, neglect or
physical abuse using different objects such as sticks, belts, electrical
cords for strangulation, stabbing, burning or poisoning are forms of
extreme domestic violence.
Bunn says the leading cause she finds in domestic violence cases is the
need to have power and control over another individual. This is a
learned behavior. The abuser has witnessed and/or experienced it
sometime in their life. Alcohol and/or drugs do not cause domestic
violence. The power and control issues within the relationship are
already a factor; however, alcohol may exacerbate and accelerate the
problem, Bunn continued.
Military families have more stressors that contribute to domestic violence, Davis added.
"Families in general deal with many stressful situations; employment,
housing, problems with kids in school, alcohol and finances," said
Davis. "Military families deal with many of those same situations but
add to that deployment, easy access to weapons, family histories,
isolating victims from family and friends far away, military members
returning from the war in a battle mindset complete with stress
reactions, and unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking, drugs,
withdrawing, and/or sudden emotional outbursts."
Victims of domestic violence can contact the domestic abuse victim
advocate 24/7 at (509) 481-9025. The Fairchild Family Advocacy Program
offers restricted reporting to victims who have not informed their chain
of command or a law enforcement agency. If a victim is in danger, one
should contact the security forces immediately. Remember, everyone
deserves to be safe.
[Editor's note: Rebecca Burylo from the Air University Public Affairs Office contributed to this article.]