Domestic Violence Prevention: Everyone Deserves a Life Free of Abuse


By Rosemary Freitas Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy.

It starts with respect – specifically, to hold in esteem or honor, to show regard or consideration for someone’s rights or preferences. Not by accident, each of the military services has a set of core values to live by; they include the words “respect,” “service before self,” or “honor.” Just as each service branch has its set of core values, so should every relationship, personal or professional.

The Department of Defense is committed to preventing domestic abuse, encouraging prompt reporting, supporting victims and providing appropriate treatment or intervention for all family members affected by the sad business of abuse. We join the nation in observing Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This year, we focus on relationship core values that promote healthy relationships and prevent abuse.

Core values are more than just talk. They are lived and reflected in what we do day to day, as well as in all of our interactions. Looking at it more closely, every healthy relationship starts with mutual respect and includes all of these core values:

  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Commitment
  • Integrity
  • Selflessness

Not to overstate the obvious, domestic violence goes against all relationship core values. If they are grounded in our deep-seated beliefs, they become an internal compass to guide our actions and behaviors. Consider these tips to keep your own relationship healthy and strong and also be able to take action to support victims and help end abuse by knowing, acting and providing support.

Know the facts:

  • Domestic violence impacts women, men and children of every age, background and belief; anyone can be a victim.
  • Nearly one in four women and one in seven men in the United States have suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • Abuse can be verbal, physical, emotional or sexual.
  • Some of the most hurtful and long-lasting forms of abuse never leave a bruise.
  • Family violence hurts children. Its effects can ripple through generations and can have a long-term impact on children’s health, behavior and their ability to learn.

Act: Each of us has a role to play in the prevention of domestic abuse.
Start at home:

  • Teach your children about relationship core values. It’s never too early to start.
  • Set the example for your child’s future relationships by modeling respectful communication and constructive conflict resolution.
  • Make it clear in word and deed that domestic abuse is unacceptable.
  • Invest in your relationships. Healthy relationships don’t just happen; they take time and effort.
  • Commit to living the relationship core values and working through problems in a healthy way.

Be an agent of change: 

  • Lead by example – show how living by relationship core values can help build safe relationships.
  • Encourage others to reach out to the Family Advocacy Program for help with healthy relationship skills and common relationship challenges.
  • Offer resources and compassion to a person you suspect is in an abusive relationship.
  • Have courage, do the right thing and call 911 to report abuse when you witness it.

– See more here.

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