Domestic Violence - understanding, awareness keys to prevention

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rebecca R. Imwalle
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
While movies, television shows and books often focus on characters struggling to cope with a wide range of situations, the reality is, almost everyone will struggle with events relating to relationships, finances or other stressors.

Unfortunately, when not handled correctly, these stressors can lead to domestic abuse.

Dennis Wier, 28th Bomb Wing community support coordinator, said the impact that many stressors, ranging from work-related stress to financial problems, being a new parent and extended separations due to deployments, can result in serious problems.

"What can be perceived as day-to-day problems, can actually lead to something as serious as domestic abuse," Wier said. "If left unchecked, our issues have a way of evolving and, unfortunately, end up affecting a lot more people than those directly involved."

Lee Sasse, 28th Medical Group family advocacy outreach manager, explained that for example, a relationship issue may start out small and grow larger over time until it becomes difficult for Airmen to deal with by themselves. That overwhelming feeling can make someone strike out at even those who love them the most.

Sasse, who has been offering assistance to those struggling with issues for more than 12 years, said the most critical step for people to make is to recognize the impact an event is having on them and to ask for help.

"Seeking help does not mean there is something wrong with an Airman or their loved ones," Sasse explained. "It just means they are ready to get some tips and pointers to make their lives happier and relationships healthier, before an issue has any chance of getting worse."

Sasse emphasized the importance of seeking help with issues before they get out of hand for the person struggling or for someone who may be being abused.

"If Airmen are currently being abused, or believe that they have been abused, they should reach out for help immediately," said Sasse. "In some limited instances the Ellsworth Family Advocacy Clinic can offer restricted reporting options where a victim can get help without the chain of command or the alleged abuser knowing, but even with Commander and partner involvement our program's goal is health and maintaining mission readiness."

Wier added that Ellsworth offers Airmen a number of different support sources and programs, from base chaplains to resiliency and stress management classes.

"I would recommend that everyone look over their relationship to make sure they're respected and that the other person understands them and cares how they feel," Sasse said. "Empathy is the most important thing we need to feel in a relationship."

For more information on resources available or for reporting options, call the Ellsworth Family Advocacy Clinic at (605) 385-3660, or visit