Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under reported crimes, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Of those who do report their attack, less than one-fifth of victims seek medical attention.

In October 1981, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence organized a “Day of Unity.” Eight years later, Congress passed a bill designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“I think it is important to keep people aware of what is out there to help people in these situations,” said Capt. James McDonald, the behavioral health officer for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

Domestic violence is defined as physical, emotional or sexual abuse used to control a significant other, married or not.

McDonald believes the main reason people do not report their attacks is because they are afraid of their attacker.

“Fear of reprisal,” McDonald said. “They are afraid of what will happen to them or their children.”

The Ironhorse chaplain, Capt. Marshall Coen, agreed, but said there are two other reasons victims do not come forward.

“They are afraid things will only get worse,” Coen said. “They don’t have anyone to trust, or in the long run it will only hurt their family even more.”

Victims of abuse may experience manipulation, yelling, shame, public humiliation and control of finances.

“The signs of a problem vary by the resiliency of a person,” Coen said.

Fort Hood offers a program for victims, the Family Advocacy Program, while Killeen has many safe havens where individuals can escape.

“I believe people fear if they tell on their (significant other) they won’t be able to care for their children or themselves,” said McDonald, adding he knows it can take time for people to realize something is wrong. “There is help,” he said, encouraging victims to reach out.

If you are a victim of domestic violence or know someone who needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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