Military offers domestic violence programs for members, families

Maggie Purcell
Maggie Purcell
Chet Adessa
Chet Adessa

By Minna Sugimoto bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Our focus on domestic violence this month continues with a look at Hawaii's military community. Each branch has programs that help in preventing abuse and treating victims. The Navy shows us what it's doing to combat the problem.

Hit me. Punch me. Choke me. Spit on me. Powerful messages of hurt and healing are written on t-shirts by victims of domestic abuse.

"Each victim is different. We have different situations that come before us," Maggie Purcell, Navy domestic abuse victim advocate, said. "It's to let each woman tell their story in their own unique way."

Their heart-breaking experiences are revealed during support group sessions -- part of wide variety of domestic violence programs and services offered to military members and their families at no cost.

"We're talking about shelters. We're talking about counseling. We're talking about treatment, victim advocates, court costs," Chet Adessa, Navy family advocacy prevention educator, said. "So it runs into the billions annually."

Navy officials say multiple deployments and other work demands can put a strain on sailors and their loved ones.

"Every three years, they get transferred so their pay is disrupted," Adessa said. "Every six to eight months, they're going on a six-month deployment. They come back for a few months and go back out for another six months."

The Fleet and Family Support Center trains Navy supervisors to recognize domestic violence red flags, and sends social workers out to ships on their way back from deployment.

"We do couples communication, dealing with children when you get back, how to ease the transition back into the family again, stress management, anger management, all on the way back from deployment because we've got a captive audience," Adessa said.

During a recent proclamation signing, Rear Admiral Dixon Smith, the commander of Navy Region Hawaii, urged vigilance and called for a ferocious attack against domestic violence.

"I think most of us know that there's a problem with domestic violence," Adessa said. "But helping prevent it, giving people help, reaching out to the families, reaching out to the commands, training their supervisors is all part of that ferociousness."

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