MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --
A black eye always has a story. The men and women displaying evident bruises here, Oct. 15, weren't abused or injured, but their goal was to make sure people thought they were.
Misawa Air Base's family advocacy team aimed to strike a sense of realism to the 2015 Domestic Violence Awareness Month slogan "Silence Hides Violence" through the "In Your Face Black Eye Campaign."
Eleven Airmen and one civilian from different Misawa AB squadrons volunteered to be moulaged with black eye injury makeup during their normal duty day.
When a co-worker, stranger or friend showed concern they gave them a flyer describing the exercise and then kept track of the responses received. Responses could range from ignoring the injury, to being advised to contact family advocacy.
"It's one thing to hand out information all day long, but that's just a piece of paper," said Rosanne Pizano, 35th Medical Operations Squadron domestic abuse victim advocate. "This is a way to see responses and get the community involved."
The goal of this campaign is to encourage members of Misawa to be aware of and acknowledge signs of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
"Since victims of domestic violence are normally still with their partner or perpetrator trying to survive in that relationship, reaching out validates what they're feeling," Pizano said. "A lot of times they don't even realize they're in the situation. Those of us on the outside can see the injuries and behaviors."
Pizano says this exercise intends to lessen the stigma addressing family violence has in the military culture.
"It's hard to talk about family violence, but it's a serious issue that does happen," Pizano said. "Letting someone know you see signs of abuse may be what the person needs to wake up and get help."
Pizano plans to use the feedback to focus their outreach in squadrons with the least positive reactions.
"Depending on the results, I will offer to brief and talk to people advising them on appropriate responses to domestic abuse," Pizano said. "They don't need to feel like they're overstepping boundaries or being nosy. You might be saving someone's life."
The results varied from Airmen being called into a supervisor's office, to strangers avoiding eye contact with them.
"I don't think anyone thought abuse could happen to me, so they rationalized it as I fell or was in a fight," said Senior Airman Sean Lake, 35th Communications Squadron cyber transport system technician. "Nobody advised me about domestic abuse resources and most said they didn't want to get in my business."
Pizano said she originally expected the community to turn a blind eye on most participants. She determined the community needs to be aware of the effects of domestic violence on the community itself and be informed of the resources available to help.
"We are all advocates who need to help people find their voice," Pizano said.
For more information, contact your local Family Advocacy Program.