EDWARD AFB – In conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, Edwards welcomed founder, CEO and director of the Two-Lifestyles Women Empowerment Program, La Toyia Conway-Hampton, to host a unique and interactive workshop recently at the Airman and Family Readiness Center.
The workshop event, titled “Crossing the Line,” involved dynamic and inspirational speakers who shared their stories of survivorship and resilience.
“The topic of Domestic Violence is extremely important because sometimes things happen behind the scenes that people aren’t aware of. As our presenter pointed out today, some people may not realize they are being abusive so education is one of the key components in educating our community about what it means to be abusive and how to seek help for those experiencing abuse,” said Susan Cartwright, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and 412th Test Wing Family Advocacy Outreach Program manager.
“I heard a Psychotherapist once say that we’re only as sick as our secrets. I thought that was a very profound statement. This is the issue at hand, bringing to light some of these secrets, which is why we host events like this. Some people may suffer alone, afraid to tell anyone or not know where to turn for help. We want to bring this issue to light in the military community so that members know we’re not immune from domestic violence but that we do have support and resources on base and in the surrounding communities,” added Cartwright.
Prior to the speaking portion, Conway-Hampton challenged each guest from the start, by inviting them to come up on stage and participate in a “Cross the Line” activity.
“I’m a trainer and I think it’s very important when we talk about domestic violence to involve each and every individual in each of these workshops. It’s such a removed topic so my job as a trainer, consultant, facilitator and survivor is to take it home. I need it to relate it to each person,” said Conway-Hampton.
After participants completed the exercise, Conway-Hampton asked attendees to identify types of abusive behaviors, learned behaviors and discuss faulty belief systems in today’s culture.
“I think domestic violence awareness is very important because sometimes it can be preventable if we understand that our behavior is inappropriate. At some point, you may be crossing a line that you may not be sure of or you may assume that you are not in the wrong, so these exercises help people understand that there are different forms of abuse,” Conway-Hampton said.
“For myself, growing up I wasn’t sure what abuse was, I just knew that was the way communication was done in my home. I think if we begin to teach effective communication and coping skills and teach people how to control themselves, we’ll have less domestic violence, because people understand that they are responsible for themselves and their behavior so the more awareness we get out there, the more people can recognize what domestic violence is.”
In addition to this exercise, Conway-Hampton divided up participants into groups to discuss cultural behaviors in the military, explain forms of isolation on military installations and how victims can feel supported in the reporting process.
“To get help for domestic violence, especially if you’ve been in an abusive relationship for a period of time, it takes time. It took me 12 times to get out of an abusive relationship while being in and out of domestic violence shelters. Finally, I had enough because it was connected to my children. So whatever it takes for a person to get out initially, it takes just as long to continue staying out and seeking help. I had to learn that I was worthy, I had to learn about self-esteem, I had to learn how to control my behaviors so all these different elements tie into domestic violence as a whole. It’s not just about getting out of it, you’re done and you’re healed, it’s a process and it’s been 16 years for me already.”
Another topic Conway-Hampton noted was that domestic violence does not exclusively involve male-to-female abuse.
“The term domestic violence means that it is in the home, so it doesn’t solely fall on one gender, it can involve any family member, because it is solely about power and control, one person exerting power over another,” Conway-Hampton said. “As a final note, for the people that may be in an abusive relationship, change is hard and, oh my, is it painful, but do it anyway. You’ll be amazed before you’re halfway through. I’ve been able to live a life beyond my wildest dreams because I made those changes, so look within yourself and make it happen.”
To contact the Two-Lifestyles Women Empowerment Program call 661-361-1590, extension 101, or visit www.twolifestyles.com. Two-Lifestyles has a military component called the Sheroes program that is catered to helping military women who have been affected by sexual abuse or domestic violence.