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Two day event raises domestic violence awareness at Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Senior Airman Isabel Perri, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron member, applies makeup to create a black eye during a Black Eye Campaign at the Balfour Beatty Community Center here Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. The Black Eye Campaign helps to instruct the public on how to approach an individual who appears to be a victim of domestic violence. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Senior Airman Isabel Perri, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron member, applies makeup to create a black eye during a Black Eye Campaign at the Balfour Beatty Community Center here Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. The Black Eye Campaign helps to instruct the public on how to approach an individual who appears to be a victim of domestic violence. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Staff Sgt. Sarah Byelick, a 2nd Range Operations Squadron member, receives a simulated black eye during a Black Eye Campaign at the Balfour Beatty Community Center here Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. Several members of Team Vandenberg simulated having a black eye to raise awareness about domestic violence. The goal of the campaign is to educate the community on how to help victims of domestic abuse and to share resources available to the victims.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Staff Sgt. Sarah Byelick, a 2nd Range Operations Squadron member, receives a simulated black eye during a Black Eye Campaign at the Balfour Beatty Community Center here Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. Several members of Team Vandenberg simulated having a black eye to raise awareness about domestic violence. The goal of the campaign is to educate the community on how to help victims of domestic abuse and to share resources available to the victims. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Senior Airman Kristin Bethany, a 30th Operations Support Squadron airfield management member, has a simulated bruise applied during a Black Eye Campaign at the Balfour Beatty Community Center here Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. Several members of Team Vandenberg simulated having a black eye to raise awareness about domestic violence. The goal of the campaign is to educate the community on how to help victims of domestic abuse and to share resources available to the victims. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Senior Airman Kristin Bethany, a 30th Operations Support Squadron airfield management member, has a simulated bruise applied during a Black Eye Campaign at the Balfour Beatty Community Center here Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. Several members of Team Vandenberg simulated having a black eye to raise awareness about domestic violence. The goal of the campaign is to educate the community on how to help victims of domestic abuse and to share resources available to the victims. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Pauline Chui, the 30th Medical Operations Squadron outreach program manager, talks to volunteers during a Black Eye Campaign at the Balfour Beatty Community Center here Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. Several members of Team Vandenberg simulated having a black eye to raise awareness about domestic violence. The goal of the campaign is to educate the community on how to help victims of domestic abuse and to share resources available to the victims. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Pauline Chui, the 30th Medical Operations Squadron outreach program manager, talks to volunteers during a Black Eye Campaign at the Balfour Beatty Community Center here Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. Several members of Team Vandenberg simulated having a black eye to raise awareness about domestic violence. The goal of the campaign is to educate the community on how to help victims of domestic abuse and to share resources available to the victims. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Members of Team V volunteered to participate in a Black Eye Campaign hosted by family advocacy here Oct. 6-7 for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The Black Eye Campaign is a social exercise meant to gain an understanding of how bystanders react to victims of domestic violence.

Each morning, the 30th Medical Operations Squadron moulage team painted bruises ranging from mild to severe on volunteers who then went out around base to document reactions.

"The point of this event is to get people talking about this uncomfortable subject," said Pauline Chui, the Family Advocacy Program outreach manager. "Domestic violence is thought of as a family issue, but it is not, it is a community issue."

While 66 percent of domestic violence cases in the military identify a woman as the victim, both men and women participated.

"Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence," said Chui. "It does not matter who a person is, their sex, how much money they make or where they live, anyone could find themselves as a victim."

Senior Airman Brittany Johnson, 30th Contracting Squadron contract specialist, and her husband Staff Sgt. Vincent Masters, 30th Space Communications Squadron quality assurance evaluator, both volunteered to participate.

"I think most of the people in my office will play it off like it is a joke or think that I was just clumsy," said Johnson after receiving her make-up. "I don't think that anyone would ever think that my husband did this to me."

Her husband's prediction of the day's events echoed Johnson's.

"They know that my wife is small, and I don't think that they would believe that she would punch me because she is too nice," said Masters before exiting the moulage room. "I think they will probably think I got in a fight, if anything."

A national statistic shows that one in four women is abused every 15 seconds. Many of these cases involve an intimate partner.

"I want to participate to get the word out how people who are affected by domestic violence can get help," said Senior Airman Kristen Bethany, a 30th Operations Support Squadron airfield manager. "It is important to teach others how to interact with people who are in this kind of situation."

The large moulage room emptied and participants, equipped with information cards, continued on with their day, prepared to answer questions about domestic violence. Reactions came for some more slowly than others.

I thought that a large majority of people would be concerned, but more than 20 people totally ignored me," said Airman 1st Class Isabel Perri, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron journeyman. "I can tell that it would be very lonely to be an abuse victim."

Perri's assessment was not unusual throughout this experiment.

Johnson found more people ignored her than were willing to offer help. "In the beginning, I forgot I had the black eye, but once I noticed people giving me that awkward pity look, I felt really ashamed."

Participants were encouraged to talk about the experiment when approached, though many times were not given the opportunity.

"I realize that it is very lonely to be an abuse victim," said Johnson. "Few people are willing to help, and you don't want anyone to look at you, so you are kind of in your own little world."

Although many participants expected to help others gain an understanding of domestic violence, those involved experienced what it was like from the victim's perspective.

"I felt sad having this on my face, almost helpless," said Bethany. "It made me have more sympathy for someone who is actually a victim of domestic violence."

Bethany, like many other volunteers, came into work late that morning with the unmistakable addition of bruising on her face, which began a discussion for her office.

"Our whole shop got together as a group and talked about what we should do if we see that someone has signs of domestic violence," said Bethany. "We talked about the need to take action whether by calling the first sergeant or family advocacy."

The Black Eye Campaign worked as intended to get people talking about domestic violence in situations that would normally not be the venue for such discussions.

"Being a good wingman and asking the tough questions isn't always easy," said Chui. "But we need to talk about it: Awareness leads to prevention."

For more information on how to stop domestic violence, call family advocacy at 606-8217.