By Karen Bartholomeo, Family Advocacy Outreach Manager
/ Published December 05, 2008
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
It doesn't end a career, it starts a new life. Insanity is often defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Keeping the secret of domestic violence is like insanity. Unless something is done differently, the same thing will happen repeatedly and prevent families from being happy, healthy and safe places to grow up or live. In the Air Force there is a long standing myth that seeking help from Mental Health and/or Family Advocacy will automatically end a career, get you fired, separated or punished in some unrecoverable way. This myth is just that "a myth."
Research shows, it is the paper trail established in the progression of the illness or the escalating severity of the problem that causes career impact. Getting help for a problem in your family does NOT cause career impact. When separation or prosecution occurs, there has been an extremely severe incident and or a long history of many problems and poor duty performance. The same can be said of many things, financial mismanagement, failed CDCs, failure to adjust to the Air Force or a history of disciplinary issues. Involvement with the helping agencies on base are not what cause career disruption. Sometimes, depending on the situation, coming thru Family Advocacy there may be administrative action from command, the same as if you are late to work, don't do your job or don't meet any other normal requirement etc. To treat your family with respect and care is a normal requirement, if you don't meet the requirement, there are consequences.
Victoria was a beautiful, funny and hard-working single mom. The joy in Victoria's life was her 19 year-old daughter Britney. They shared everything, clothes, shoes, music. But there was one thing that Victoria didn't share with her daughter and that was she was being abused by her boyfriend. Brittney knew something wasn't right when the police drove her Mom's intoxicated boyfriend from a bar to the home they were building. Brittney asked her mom to leave with her but Victoria assured her that she would be fine. That was the last time Brittney would see her mom alive.
Victoria Long, 37, was found beaten to death in her Englewood home on April 14, 2005. This was the third domestic violence homicide within three weeks in the Miami Valley.
We must take our instincts, concerns and feelings seriously. When we think something isn't right, it usually isn't. If Victoria had heeded her inner voices, or a friend had made a call, maybe she would be alive now. Like child abuse, domestic violence is everyone's business.
National statistics show every 9 seconds a woman is abused by someone she loves and we all must do our part in ending domestic violence. Domestic violence cost us as taxpayers billions of dollars every year in lost productivity, jobs, poverty and medical care for victims. This story of domestic violence helps to illustrate the importance of our local organizations working to help victims and families.
New Bridges Family Shelter and the Collation Against Family Violence are available to base personnel as is Family Advocacy.
Please help us help these outstanding organizations by donating your old cell phone, canned and non-perishable food items, starter kitchen items, paper products, personal care products for women (of all races) and babies (diapers, etc). These are just a few of the types of things desperately needed by the shelters. If you have questions and/or want to help call Karen Bartholomeo at Family Advocacy at 654-5235.