October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, dedicated to unifying and supporting victims of abuse, as well as raising awareness and preventing domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a serious and widespread problem that affects millions of people around the world. It is not only physical, but also psychological, emotional, and financial abuse that one person uses to control and harm another person in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, or socioeconomic status.
According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of women and men in the United States have experienced some form of psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Moreover, 4 in 10 women and men have experienced at least one form of coercive control by an intimate partner, such as isolation, threats, or intimidation.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
- On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
- 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, etc.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be considered “domestic violence.”
- 1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner.
These statistics show that domestic violence is not only a personal issue, but also a public health and social justice issue that affects the well-being and safety of individuals, families, and communities.
There are many ways we can help during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and throughout the year. Here are some suggestions:
- You can educate yourself and others about the signs and effects of domestic violence, and how to help someone who is experiencing it. You can find resources and information at https://ncadv.org/RESOURCES.
- You can donate money, time, or goods to a local domestic violence shelter or agency. You can also volunteer to answer calls, provide support, or assist with legal advocacy for survivors.
- You can join or organize events, such as vigils, rallies, or walks, to show solidarity and support for survivors and advocates.
- You can speak up and take action if you witness or suspect domestic violence in your community. You can call 911 if you see someone in immediate danger, or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) for guidance and referrals.
- You can share on social media what you are doing to raise awareness and prevent domestic violence. You can also follow and support organizations that work on this issue, such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, or the Office on Violence Against Women.
By taking these steps, we can make a difference in the lives of those who are affected by domestic violence. We can also help create a culture of respect and nonviolence that values healthy relationships and human dignity.
Remember, even small steps can help make a change. What will you do?