Robins Family Advocacy defines domestic violence, offers Airmen, families help

  • Published
  • By Holly Logan-Arrington
  • Robins Public Affairs

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors towards a current or past intimate partner.

From physical to emotional abuse to sexual mistreatment and spousal neglect, it often begins mildly, but becomes more and more dangerous without someone stepping in to help and interrupt the cycle, said Bobbie Renee Hubbard, a Family Advocacy Intervention specialist in the Family Advocacy Program in the 78th Medical Group’s Mental Health Clinic.

Domestic violence is illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well as Georgia state law. 

“Physical abuse can range anywhere from pushing or shoving, poking on the chest, restraining, slapping on any part of the body, to more serious acts like brandishing or using a weapon, punching, or choking,” Hubbard said.

“Emotional abuse is often difficult to identify and can look like a wide range of behaviors,” she said. “Your partner may threaten to harm you, self or loved ones, constantly puts you down, snoops around your personal belongings, cell phone and social media, checks up on you constantly, excessive texts/calls, films you without permission or threatens to share intimate images without your permission, blames you for all of the problems, calls you names, embarrasses you in front of others, stalks you, won’t let you leave a room or house, keeps or hides keys, and/or makes you feel like you’re going crazy.”

Hubbard said sexual abuse includes any type of attempted or completed sexual act of an intimate partner who has not given consent, whether through physical force, emotional aggression or coercion.

Additionally, sexual abuse could include kissing, groping, rubbing, fondling - whether directly or through clothing, forcing or coercing to engage in a sexual act.

Domestic violence is a serious social issue which negatively impacts individuals, families and the mission of the U.S. Air Force, Hubbard said.

“With domestic violence comes a pattern of unhealthy behaviors and incidents, which often lead to mental health problems for the victim and/or the offender,” she said. “Victims and/or offenders may experience poor concentration, irritability, anger, low mood, appetite and/or sleep disturbance, anxiety, excessive worry, fear, and jealousy, as well as a host of other mental health problems. These can lead to significant impact on the mental health of individuals, possibly leading to suicide or homicide.”

One of the primary factors of suicidal ideation is intimate relationship problems, Hubbard said.  

“This is why it is so important for individuals and couples to get help as soon as they recognize red flags in themselves and/or their partner,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 43 million women and 38 million men have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner.

The CDC reported about one in five women and one in seven men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner. About one in five women and one in 12 men have experienced contact sexual violence by an intimate partner.

Hubbard said Robins Family Advocacy offers two types of reporting for domestic violence incidents.

“Restricted reporting allows the victim to receive safety planning, support, and family advocacy and medical treatment without notifications to command, law enforcement, legal, etc.,” she said. “No investigation is initiated. They cannot obtain a military protective order. Someone who has filed a restricted report may choose to eventually change their report to unrestricted.”

Restricted reporting is not available for reports of child abuse.

Hubbard said unrestricted reporting allows both the victim and offender to receive Family Advocacy safety planning and treatment. With this reporting method, command is notified and an investigation is initiated. Additionally, the victim is eligible for a military protective order if appropriate

Hubbard said unrestricted reports cannot be changed to restricted. 

“The Family Advocacy Program ensures that a wide range of individuals and agencies across the installation are annually trained on Family Advocacy services, reporting options such as restricted and unrestricted reporting, protocols, prevention, advocacy and the dynamics of domestic violence,” she said.

Additionally, Family Advocacy representatives are invited to speak at various groups and events including commander calls, Bundles for Babies classes at the Airman and Family Readiness Center, spouse groups, First Term Airman Center and Airman Professional Enhancement Seminars.

Year round, the Family Advocacy Program offers various educational and clinical prevention services for individuals, couples and families.

“All of our prevention services are provided without documentation in the medical record and are confidential from leadership,” Hubbard said.

The Robins Family Advocacy Program is the only entity on the installation that specializes in domestic violence, Hubbard said.

“We encourage anyone who has access to this base, regardless of status, to seek out Robins Family Advocacy for assistance with domestic violence,” she said. “We will complete safety planning and resource referrals for anyone who seeks assistance.”

While only those with Tricare health insurance who are eligible for care in the 78th MDG can receive ongoing treatment, Hubbard said Robins Family Advocacy maintains very close relationships with off-base helping agencies and can make immediate connections for those who are not eligible for treatment on the base.

The Family Advocacy Program can be reached Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by calling the Robins Air Force Base Mental Health Clinic at 478-327-8398.

A 24-hour Domestic Violence Victim Advocate is available at 478-216-4457 for anyone at Robins Air Force Base for immediate consultation, safety planning and resource referral.

“Our DAVA offers 24-hour, seven days a week confidential services to adult victims of intimate partner abuse and non-offending parents of child abuse,” Hubbard said. “Services include emotional support, advocacy, and support with legal, law enforcement, court, medical appointments, ongoing safety assessment and planning, and consultation with the Family Advocacy Treatment team, as well as referrals to other agencies as appropriate.”