JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) community kicked off Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a walk and rally Oct. 5.
The event was sponsored by the NAS Jax Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) and promotes Domestic Violence Awareness Month which is recognized in October.
"This event is being held to make people more aware of domestic violence because if you are aware you are able to help prevent it, ask the right questions, refer victims for services if they need them and not just be silent about it," said FFSC Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate LaTresa Henderson.
The event began with a walk around Patriots Grove by NAS Jacksonville personnel. "We are walking in support of all those who have been affected by domestic violence," Henderson stated.
NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Maclay said, "Domestic violence is an issue that impacts the entire community. Installations Fleet and Family Support Centers offer a wide variety of programs and classes for military members and their families. Partnerships between the military and community is critical to successfully mitigate the crises and keep families safe."
Among the guest speakers at the rally was Ellen Siler, chief executive officer of the Hubbard House, a safe haven for domestic violence victims in Jacksonville, who spoke out against domestic violence.
"We in Northeast Florida are extremely fortunate to have such strong collaborations within our community to end domestic violence. The relationships we have with the FFSC and the Navy here is simply something that we are not seeing anywhere else in the country today," said Siler.
"Last year, we saw a 10 percent increase in domestic violence police reports in Jacksonville. I've been working in the domestic violence field for the past 25 years and have never seen an increase like that. We need to be more vigilant in doing everything we can in ending domestic violence," she continued.
"There were eight domestic violence homicides in Jacksonville in 2009 and we've had 10 so far this year and there are still three more months left in the year," said Siler. "With very few exceptions, these victims had never called the police or sought assistance. So, there was no opportunity to help prevent those homicides. Yet, family members, friends and co-workers knew about the violence. It's really important that people draw attention to this issue and the services that are available."
Executive Director of the Quigley House Sharon Youngerman, also spoke at the rally. "Domestic violence is not just a woman's issue, it's a crime against the family and society as a whole," Youngerman said.
The Quigley House is a comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault center, offering shelter, advocacy and counseling services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Clay County and the surrounding areas. "We're devoted to providing quality services to abused women, their children and their families. We understand that to effectively stop family violence and violence against women in general, we have to simultaneously be gentle caretakers, empowering teachers and vocal advocates," added Youngerman.
"Our goal is to stop domestic violence that has begun by empowering and supporting victims and by teaching healthy relationship skills to victims and their partners," she said. "Breaking the cycle of violence requires addressing the issue within our society and insisting on accountability of those who perpetrate the violence. We continue to adjust these issues on various levels from the individual, community and legislative efforts both statewide and nationally. But there is so much more to be done. We desperately need the community to make further strides in the fight to end domestic violence," said Youngerman.
Maclay ended the rally by signing the official proclamation designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and thanking the guest speakers and those involved in the Victim Advocate Program at the FFSC. The program provides support and crisis intervention, assistance filing military protective orders and civilian injunctions, victim rights information, transportation to medical, legal and counseling appointments, as well as acting as a liaison between victim, commands and community agencies.
For more news from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, visit www.navy.mil/local/nasjax/.