October is National Domestic Violence Month
To the editor:
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time of unity to connect victims, advocates, and allies across the country.
Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. It’s not just punches and black eyes — it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It’s stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, constant use the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it.
Since the Violence Against Women Act passed in 1994, we’ve come a long way. Between 1993 and 2010, the overall rate of domestic violence dropped nearly two-thirds and state laws have reformed to address issues such as dating abuse in the workplace, stalking, employment discrimination and more. Trauma-informed approaches to domestic violence are becoming the norm. People are noticing victims – victims from every type of relationship, of every gender. Corporations such as the NFL, Avon, and Liz Claiborne are becoming involved.
Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. It’s easy to understand this statistic in light of the fact that one in three women is trusting that her dating partner or spouse will love and respect her, and she’s getting abused anyway. If you weren’t aware, some men are victims, too. And, of course, there are the children who directly or indirectly become victims of domestic violence at home. In a one-day national census of domestic violence services, just under 73,000 survivors across the U.S. stepped forward to ask for help (and these were just the ones who spoke out).
Perhaps you know a victim. If you do, you are aware that they hid behind a mask. They may show you their brave face, telling you not to worry. Or they may deny that anything is wrong. On the inside, however, there is pain, questioning, fear, and indecision. They need someone like you to help them set aside the mask and seek help and healing.
We are constantly bombarded with messages about the importance of “raising awareness” regarding social problems.
This month is no different. But, there’s no point in raising awareness if we’re not also taking action. Now is time to take a stand. Don’t stay silent. Support survivors and speak out against domestic violence all month long.