The statistics are sobering – every day, three women die from domestic violence. Too many suffer silently and we must do our part to bring this issue more public. We need to work together to change perceptions about gender-based violence so that we can save lives.
The Presidential Proclamation on the White House website says it best: “This October, let us honor National Domestic Violence Awareness Month by promoting peace in our own families, homes, and communities. Let us renew our commitment to end domestic violence — in every city, every town, and every corner of America.”
Here are some ways to make an impact during this important month:
Too often, people believe that abuse is limited to physical or sexual injury. There are other things, however, that are considered signs of domestic violence or abuse. Consider the following questions:
Does your significant other ever embarrass you with put-downs? Do they control or intimidate you and/or monitor who you see and where you go? Have they isolated you from your friends and family? Do they limit your access to money or prevent you from working/going to school? Do they make all of the decisions? Threaten to kill you, your pets or themselves? Have they hit, kicked, punched, shoved, choked or slapped you? Do they blame you for the abuse?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you could be at risk from domestic violence.
Create a Plan
If you, or someone you know, are currently experiencing domestic violence, develop a plan for getting out of the situation. Have a trusted friend or family member keep money for you, locate shelters and identify any other resources in your community that can help you make the transition to an abuse-free life.
Speak Up for Others
If you see someone being victimized by domestic violence, speak up. Let them know that you have noticed the abuse. Sometimes, people genuinely do not realize how bad their situation has become or they begin to believe that they deserve it. An outside perspective can really shed light on destructive patterns.
Survivors need our support and encouragement after they have left an abusive situation. While it is wonderful to have resources such as shelters, emergency assistance and more, it does take money and time to keep things running. For Domestic Violence Awareness Month (or any time of the year!), consider what you can do to make a difference in the lives of those experiencing this extreme hardship.