DOD launching program to help curb domestic violence
Stars and Stripes March 2, 2006
ARLINGTON, Va. — Nabila Bare was only 18 last July when she was stabbed 71 times with knives and a meat cleaver, and died at Fort Lewis, Wash.
The alleged murderer? Her own husband, Iraq veteran and Purple Heart recipient Army Spc. Brandon Bare, 19, a machine gunner with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division who is now awaiting a general court martial.
Sadly, Nabila Bare’s death is not an isolated incident. On average in America, three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief.
It’s not just homicide: Domestic assaults account for 11 percent of all reported and unreported violence between 1998 and 2002, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
And wearing a military uniform, or having a partner who does, doesn’t offer women any special protection. A 2005 study by Diana Ramos, a women’s health fellow at the Sepulveda, Calif., Veteran’s Administration, reported that almost a third of military women said they had been hit, kicked, slapped, punched or sexually assaulted by a domestic partner.
In an effort to stem the assaults, Pentagon officials have forged a partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline to launch a domestic violence awareness and education campaign.
“The Department of Defense is not immune to the broader societal problem of domestic violence, and has a responsibility to act when it occurs,” David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, wrote in a Feb. 28 campaign announcement.
The campaign will include educational materials placed at military installations and “key public places” near and around military bases, along with public service announcements carried by military media outlets, the announcement said.
In another effort to “strengthen our response to domestic violence,” Chu told lawmakers Wednesday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England signed a new policy Jan. 22 that “encourages victims to feel more comfortable and safe about reporting domestic abuse.”
Dubbed the “Restricted Reporting Policy for Incidents of Domestic Abuse,” the policy allows victims of military abusers two options: asking to make an official report that will trigger a formal investigation; or requesting medical help and counseling, but no involvement by law enforcement or military commanders.
“In the military community, a victim is usually concerned that reporting will have immediate repercussions on the military career of the family member offender, and thus affect the family’s financial welfare,” Chu said testimony submitted Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee.
The new system, Chu testified, “affords victims access to medical care and victim advocacy services without immediate command or law enforcement involvement.”
The Pentagon installed a similar restricted/unrestricted reporting option for victims of sexual assault last year.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, every day. Counselors can provide crisis intervention, information, and referrals in 140 languages. Call 800-799-SAFE (7233), 800-787-3224 (TTY), or go to www.ndvh.org.
Stars and Stripes reporter Leo Shane contributed to this report from Washington.