October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This first began in October 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across the country.

The “Day of Unity” soon evolved into a week, and in October of 1987, the first National Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. In 1989, Congress passed Public Law 101-112, officially designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Such legislation has been passed each year since.

Domestic Violence Statistics

According to Break the Cycle, nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. Domestic violence affects millions; both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and socioeconomic 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 of the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it.

How Can You Help Support and Raise Awareness for Domestic Violence Survivors?

Here are just a few ways:

  • Listen without judgment. Focus on providing support and asking questions. Although it may seem to you that they should just leave, leaving is not always simple and the process of leaving a violent relationship has its dangers.
  • Become familiar with local resources. Find out about the local services – phone numbers, places and websites. Be able to refer your friend to an expert that can help identify their options and develop a safety plan. Offer to go with them to talk to someone.
  • Remember leaving or letting go is not always the immediate remedy. It can take an average of five to seven times for a victim of domestic violence to leave the relationship. Some may never leave. Even if you are frustrated because you care, remember that your friend or family member needs to know you are still there for them. Pulling away from them will only make them feel more isolated and less likely to leave.
  • Focus on what they want, not what you would do if it were you. Ask your friend what she/he wants to do. Listen to him or her talk about his or her needs, frustrations and fears. Just asking for help or reaching out is a big step.
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Healthy relationships should always have the basic qualities of respect, love, equality and communication. We need to teach future generations that violence is wrong and make others aware of the signs of abuse.

How to Get More Information on Domestic Violence

For more information on domestic violence, contact the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. MCEDSV is a statewide, private, non-profit membership organization whose members represent a network of over 70 domestic and sexual violence programs and over 200 allied organizations and individuals.

Here are more organizations and hotlines focused on putting a stop to domestic violence:

If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.