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Have you ever been abused? It breaks my heart whenever I counsel an individual who is a victim of such torment and scorn. These individuals come in all shapes and sizes, both male and female. They are enlisted Soldiers as well as commissioned officers, covering all races, ethnic backgrounds, and religions.

When it comes to domestic violence, there is no discrimination. The common denominator is shame. Often these victims have a difficult time trusting others. Rarely when sharing their story with me, will they look me in the eye. More often than not their eyes will be down-cast and sad.

Unfortunately when a man or a woman talks to me about their abuser, they are quick with an excuse to somehow justify their anguish. These individuals seem to believe that if they were somehow better people - if they could only be better wives, more loving husbands, or more efficient in their work, then the abuse would stop. It seems as though there are scales on their eyes blinding them of the truth. And the truth is that it is the abuser who is solely responsible for their violent deeds - and no one else.

If you are experiencing any type of abuse, whether it is physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological, there are resources available. It takes personal courage to ask for help but help, is at your finger tips. Perhaps the first and most important step is to trust a professional to help and support you. As a chaplain, I urge you to pick up the phone and call for assistance and counsel. The Family Advocacy Program office can help provide professional assistance. Their phone number is (301) 619-7453. Please be assured that confidentiality is an absolute.

There are two methods of reporting a domestic violence incident: restricted or unrestricted. Without getting too involved with the explanation, a restricted report limits the scope of intervention. These restricted reports allow the victim to receive medical treatment, professional counseling and advocacy intervention without Command involvement. The unrestricted reporting authorizes an official investigation and Command involvement, as well as the services of medical treatment, professional counseling, and advocacy invention. This unrestricted option allows the widest range of rights and protections to the victim.

The chapel is also a safe place to provide pastoral support and spiritual counsel. The post chapel is located at 1776 Ditto Avenue and is co-located with the Child Development Center. Our phone number is (301)619-7371. If you are experiencing abuse, know there are people who are available to help you. I pray that you find the strength and the resolve to come to the chapel and maybe we can talk. Sometimes that is all we really need - a person who will listen and not cast judgment.

Please be assure that both the chapel and the Family Advocacy Program office can provide wise counsel. Both of our offices are good places to begin the healing process. No one deserves to be abused.

No one - not even you.