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Family Advocacy Program brings awareness to domestic violence within military families

The Department of Defense reported over 40,000 domestic abuse incidents involving military service members, their spouse, or family from 2015-2019.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and national data shows that reported case of domestic violence are unfortunately increasing.

The Family Advocacy Program is a free service available to all military members and their families. Leaders have three commitments when it comes to domestic violence; prevention, awareness and support. 

Olivia Duffy is a Victim Advocate at Fleet and Family Services at the Naval Station Mayport. As a Navy wife for 20 years, she’s says unfortunately many military families aren’t aware of the free resources available to support victims of domestic violence.

"I was a Navy wife for 20 years so I really didn't even know that fleet and family existed so the good thing we just want to get out that fleet and family is here. All of our services are free," said Olivia Duffy, Victim Advocate. 

Here in the Florida community, 37.9% of Florida women and 29.3% of Florida men experience dating violence, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

In Duval County, there were over 8,076 reported incidents of domestic violence in 2019, a 13.7% increase since 2018, this according to Florida's Uniform Crime Reports on domestic violence. 

“The numbers on the outside have gone way up, we’re seeing about the same numbers here," said Duffy.

The Department of Defense reported over 40,000 domestic abuse incidents involving military service members, their spouses or family from 2015-2019.

The reasons are broad, but COVID could be playing a role.

"Everybody is cooped up in their house, they're not working, some people are staying home, there's a lot of tension," said Lisa Davis, Family Advocate program victim advocate.

Advocacy and crisis support, clinical treatments, and safety planning are just some of the services offered by The Family Advocacy Program.

A hotline is available to talk over the phone or walk-ins are accepted. Restricted reporting is offered to give victims the opportunity to just talk without making an official report.

"Some people kinda think if I come in, you know if I come in and talk to someone, what's going to be the ramifications, we want to make sure that we're available to talk and there doesn't have to be anybody else privy to our conversations," said Duffy.

The number for the Mayport Fleet and Family support center is 904-270-6600.