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Fort Bragg Fights Domestic Violence

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FAYETTEVILLE — Fort Bragg officials reported a slight increase of domestic violence cases on post - a total of about 500 a year. However, compared to other army installations, Bragg's numbers are below average.

In any case, officials say one case is too many and now they are fighting back.

Sue Edwards is trying to spread the message. In her new position as a Victim Advocate Coordinator at Fort Bragg, she is working to prevent and educate soldiers about spousal abuse. Her position is just one of three in the military.

"We want to make sure everyone realizes it's a problem," Edwards said.

Soldiers are already required to participate in an annual class on domestic violence, but Edwards is looking beyond that.

She is distributing Army produced spousal abuse videos to each command. She is trying to make soldiers aware of the things that may spark abuse, such as the stresses of low salaries in the military and the power and control issues from constant separations.

"The spouse may be here today, then deployed for three months," says Edwards. "Who's in control? Who's in charge? Those issues probably surface in the military more than civilian communities."

The manager of the Family Advocacy Program on post says Edwards will also help victims directly. She will be there to advocate for the victims, something that was not available on post until now.

"Before, we talked through command or through the perpetrator to get to the victim, now we get information directly to the victim," Family Advocacy Manager Henry Berry said.

It is mandatory for witnesses to report incidents in the military. For that reason, the army can keep a much better watch on their figures than in the civilian community where many cases go unreported.