GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
*Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence*
You walk into your office on a Monday. You had a glorious three day weekend that you’re still reeling from. You’re too focused on checking your email to notice her in the back of the room. She’s hastily adjusting her mask, and feverously smoothing her hair. But her uniform looks fine, so you go back to checking your emails.
But your office is no exception to the statistics just because you didn’t notice why she adjusts her mask and fixes her hair so diligently. Just because you didn’t see, doesn’t stop her from being one in four.
One in four women (and one in seven men) fall victim to physical violence by a loved one, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website.
October 2020, is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, declared by U.S. President Donald J. Trump.
“This month is pretty special to me,” said Eva Denson. “Eighteen years ago, I got the courage to walk away from a pretty bad relationship.”
But Eva’s story wasn’t an outlying incident, approximately 44% of full-time employed adults in the U.S. reported experiencing domestic violence in their workplace.
“Domestic violence is an evil that threatens the social fabric of our Nation,” said Trump in a proclamation on October 1, 2020. “Tragically, more than 10 million Americans suffer at the hands of loved ones each year, and women are twice as likely to be targets of this heinous crime as men.”
Eva Denson, Military Family Support Liaison for Workforce Solutions and also member of Goodfellow AFB, unknowingly became one of those targets.
“The domestic violence—the hitting-- started when I was three months pregnant with our second child, our daughter,” said Eva evenly.
Are you sure that’s what happened? Her OBGYN tilted her head, but Eva brushed off her question, insisting the purple ring visible under her eye happened while playing with her oldest child.
If you didn’t make me mad, this wouldn’t have happened, his deep voice cooed in her ear. And she believed him.
Almost every day--every day—he physically attacked Eva after her daughter was born. She tried to fight back, but couldn’t overpower her abuser.
If you ever leave, I will take the kids, he threatened. So she stayed.
“I was SCARED,” she exhausted. “I didn’t have a supportive family, fresh out of high school, had a dead-end job, and two kids.”
She left him.
What are you going to do? Her grandma questioned.
“I don’t know, but I have to get out of this situation,” Eva said. While collecting her thoughts, she kept her children at her grandmother’s house, and didn’t go back to her abuser that night. After work the next day, she came to her grandmother’s house but he was already there.
“I wasn’t even out of the car,” Eva remembered. “He grabbed me by my hair and started dragging me around the trailer park where my grandma lived.”
This was the final straw. She withdrew a gun and pointed it at him.
“I’m sick of him putting his hands on me, this is enough.”
But her grandmother stopped her from pulling the trigger, and Eva blacked out.
“It was October 3, 2002, when we went our separate ways,” said Eva. “That was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
For the next 18 years, Eva sought healing with her church, through fitness, and journaling.
Statistics also cite that over 70% of U.S. workplaces don’t have a formal program or policy to address workplace violence, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website.
“I think there should be resources available,” Eva said. “A lot of people don’t have the courage to walk away. We need resources for the victims.”
For more Domestic Violence information on base, please call the Goodfellow Family Advocacy Program at 325-654-3122.
For more Domestic Violence information in the community, please contact the Family Shelter at 325-655-5774.
Additionally, The Domestic Violence hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and offers Live Chat on its website.
“Tell someone, don’t be afraid,” said Eva. “Tell someone until someone listens.”