October is typically known as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In relation to our women and children, there is another form of awareness that we need to shine light on; domestic violence. October is also known as National Domestic Violence Month. In this month’s Bald Bearded & Blessed blog, we will explore the history of National Domestic Violence Month, look at the statistics and impact of domestic violence, and to learn what you can do to bring awareness to others than just wearing purple.
Origin of National Domestic Violence Month
On September 22, 1978, the National Coalition Against Violence was officially incorporated. This organization was birth from a number of hearings on battered women that took place at the United States Commission on Human Rights. In 1981, the National Coalition Against Violence established the first annual Day of Unity. The objective for the Day of Unity was to connect advocates across the nation who worked to eliminate violence against women and their children. All the Day of Unity activities centered around three themes:
- mourn those victims who died from domestic violence
- celebrate survivors of domestic violence
- networking with those who work to eliminate domestic violence
The first observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month occurred in October 1987. In October 1989, U.S. Congress designated October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The Impact of Domestic Violence
When it comes to the impact of domestic violence, the statistics show not only the physical and emotion impacts to women and children, but also the impact to the economy.
Here are a few statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
- On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post- traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.
- The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
- 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States has been raped in their lifetime.
- Almost half of female (46.7%) and male (44.9%) victims of rape in the United States were raped by an acquaintance.
- 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
- Victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8.0 million days of paid work each year.
- The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $8.3 billion per year.
- Women abused by their intimate partners are more vulnerable to contracting HIV or other STI’s due to forced intercourse or prolonged exposure to stress.
- Studies suggest that there is a relationship between intimate partner violence and depression and suicidal behavior.
What You Can Do For Domestic Violence Awareness
Wearing the color purple is a great gesture and one of the ways to bring awareness to domestic violence. There are some other awesome things you can do to bring awareness that extends beyond the month of October. Advocacy is an important aspect in bringing awareness to any important issues that impacts the lives of people like domestic violence. One way to advocate is to help someone who is experiencing physical, emotional, and sexual violence by assisting them with a safety plan and resources. Oftentimes, those who experience domestic violence feel they don’t have any means to break the cycle of violence. A personalized safety plan can be the tool utilized to prevent future incidents of abuse from occurring. A personalized safety plan is a specific plan that can entail the following:
- how to engage or not engage the abuser
- in the event of escape, where do you go and who to contact
- when contacting others, what specific method of communication do you use
- what available resources do you have access to (i.e, money, transportation, shelter, nearest police department, etc.)
Lastly, there are advocates that are available to assist those who experience domestic violence. These advocates can help connect them with the necessary resources to get them and their children out of harms way. There are lists of different places, programs, and organizations that can help. Most states have a free 2-1-1 phone service. This service can be utilized to get connected with an advocate who will in turn help with navigation to available resources.
This October consider lending some attention to domestic violence awareness. Wear purple, share the importance of bringing awareness to this issue, and be an advocate by sharing resources.
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