By Halle Thornton
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Peterson Air Force Base Family Advocacy Program’s first annual “Strike Out” Domestic Violence Bowling event at the Peterson AFB bowling alley raised awareness for domestic violence Nov. 6.
Jeremy Roberts, program assistant, said the idea for a bowling event stemmed from the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator’s dodgeball tournament for sexual assault awareness month.
“It was successful and spread a positive message for prevention,” he said. “We thought this would be a good thing to give a shot and see if we could make it happen again.”
Active duty are encouraged to wear civilian clothes for the event.
“It will give a sense of one community,” she added.
Additionally, domestic violence prevention T-shirts adorned with purple ribbons were distributed to guests.
Roberts hopes the event will bring awareness to an often hard topic to discuss.
“For us to go out there and have some fun while also bringing awareness to a very tough issue not only within the military but within the United States as a whole, that’s a message we want to get out there.”
Angela Lenn, program assistant, explained they are intentionally promoting the event as the first annual as a way to bring awareness and promote community among Airmen.
“It’s all about connection,” she said. “We want people to learn and get educated about what’s going on around them and nationwide. We also want Airmen to get to know our program and we want to get to know them on levels that aren’t so heavy.”
Roberts said their office wants people to know they’re is more than just a program.
“We want Airmen to know the people in the program,” he said. “We want them to go and see people who can really help.”
Roberts added the program is not only connected with the military community, but the Colorado Springs community as well.
“We partner with local domestic violence shelter, and they make us aware of their events and vice versa,” he said.
Roberts said unfortunately, domestic violence is an ongoing issue in the community, military or civilian.
“It happens every year, and we see numerous referrals come across our desk,” he said. “It’s something that’s happening.
Lenn added a lot of what the program handles is situational domestic violence.
“There are some heavy stressors in the home, like a new baby at a young age, or adjusting to the military lifestyle,” she said. “It’s a hard adjustment, but if they have the education beforehand, before those stressors really bubble up, it’s easier for them to handle it, and there will be less of those types of cases and incidents.”
Roberts said with any domestic violence case, safety is the primary concern.
“We address that first and work with command to do that,” he said. “Sometimes we separate individuals temporarily until we can complete our assessment and say ‘hey, is it safe for these individuals to be together or do we need to do a little cool off period for a week or two?’”
Lenn said the rewards of her job come from the opportunities to change situations that may be going down a wrong road.
Roberts echoed her sentiment.
“To know we’ve intervened and helped it not go down that direction is all worth it,” he said.
Lenn said the majority of the program staff have kids, families and the same stressors shared with the community they work in.
“Sometimes, we apply it to ourselves, just as anyone else would,” she added.
Roberts emphasized the program is a safe place, and they are there to help Airmen in any way they can.
“I encourage Airmen to seek help early,” he said. “If things are starting to bubble up and you’re arguing a little bit more, figure out what’s putting stress and strain on your relationship. It might be something simple we can address, providing tools and resources so it doesn’t escalate from there.”
Lenn added this goes back to why they host events.
“It’s hard to ask for help, whether it’s because of pride or fear,” she said. “If you feel more comfortable going to a program to ask for help because you know the people behind it, that’s what we’re trying to get at.”
To bring more awareness to domestic violence prevention, both Peterson and Schriever AFB’s have silent witnesses displayed in the headquarters buildings, representing victims of domestic violence.
Additionally, both Peterson and Schriever AFB’s will host a mock Central Registry Board Nov. 14, featuring hypothetical cases and questions asked by a panel of experts, similar to a real CRB.
“I really hope to expand this every year and make it something other bases will eventually join in on,” she said. “If it becomes bigger and bigger, people will become more educated about domestic violence. Maybe then we can see some of those numbers go down.”
For more information about the program, call 719-556-8943.