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Domestic Violence Awareness Month; A Call to Action

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  • By Hannah Hoffman, LCSW, Family Advocacy Intervention Specialist

In the 10 minutes that it will take you to read this, it’s estimated that approximately 200 people in the United States will be physically abused by their intimate partner (NCADV, 2023). Statistics garnered from the Department of Defense reflect similar trends with over 40,000 domestic abuse incidents being reported over a five-year period (Farell, 2021). I know many people reading this may be thinking, “well, that’s sad, but it doesn’t have anything to do with me.” Statistically, however, you are likely to interact with someone who has been impacted by domestic violence at some point in their lives. It’s important in your role as individuals, loved ones, partners, leaders, and wingmen that you know how to handle these situations appropriately. In fact, you have probably already encountered people who have experienced it without ever knowing. That’s because historically, domestic violence has been a hidden, isolating, and silent pandemic that is often shrouded in fear and shame.

When you hear the term domestic violence (DV) most of us conjure up images of physical battery, usually perpetrated within the context of a marriage. While this is one facet of the term, domestic violence is also characterized as the “willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, economic, and emotional/psychological abuse” (NCADV, 2023). An intimate partner is defined as “a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature currently or formerly” (Farell, 2021). Yes, the partner you met on a dating app but are no longer together would count.

While bruises and scars may be easily identifiable in abusive relationships; psychological abuse is often more subtle. Here are a few examples of signs that may indicate an unhealthy relationship:

Does your partner…

Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family?

Put down your accomplishments?

Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?

Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?

Tell you that you are nothing without them?

Treat you roughly—grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?

Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?

Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?

Blame you for how they feel or act?

Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?

Make you feel like there is “no way out” of the relationship?

Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with friends or family?

Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson”?

Do you...

Sometimes feel scared of how your partner may behave?

Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?

Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?

Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?

Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?

Some of you may be thinking, “well, why doesn’t that person just leave the relationship if it’s that awful?” If it were truly that simple of an answer, I would not be writing this article today or sharing these grave statistics with you. Common barriers for individuals in these situations include fear of the abuser’s actions escalating and becoming lethal, lack of healthy social support systems, the survivor may feel the relationship is a mix of good times, love and hope along with the manipulation, intimidation, or fear, lack of knowledge of resources available, fear of losing custody of children, lack of financial means, and so forth.

What can YOU do in these situations to be helpful? First, recognize these patterns of power and control and when they are present in relationship dynamics. Acknowledge without judgement, and instead practice compassion, understanding, and empathy with the survivor. If you find yourself in this situation, I have also included some resources to gain further information or support from below. Family Advocacy Program also offers preventive services to include marriage workshops, anger management classes, and individual counseling. MacDill AFB offers a 24/7 domestic violence advocate that can help answer any of your questions, assist you through the process of restricted and unrestricted reports, or just general information regarding DV and IPV #813-279-1320.

All of us have a shared community responsibility to protect one another whether that’s through education, awareness, practicing trustworthiness, promoting accountability, or building a stronger sense of belonging at MacDill AFB. So, to answer your initial question, yes, domestic violence prevention does involve you…it involves everyone.


If you or someone you care about is seeking support for domestic abuse, confidential assistance is available. See the options below for information, support and services:

Domestic abuse victim advocates are available 24/7 through your installation Family Advocacy Program. 813-279-1320 (DAVA Line)

You can also call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to be connected to your closest Family Advocacy Program.

For support outside of the military, you can connect with a victim advocate through the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 by calling 800-799-7233 or visiting for chat services. En Español:

Call 911 or military law enforcement if you witness domestic abuse, or if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.


Hannah Hoffman, LCSW, Family Advocacy Intervention Specialist

Advocate & Survivor