In the US, October has been recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month since the 1980s, with the goal of bringing together the work of advocates across the country to highlight this important issue.
Educating Yourself on Domestic Violence
“It is important for us to recognize and discuss domestic violence awareness to mourn our victims, celebrate our survivors, educate people about abuse and push for change,” says Dr. Charlotte Redden Hamilton, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Department Chairperson, Program Director, and Associate Professor at South University as well as Chair of the University’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion.
Domestic violence is generally defined as a pattern of behavior within an intimate relationship where one person establishes power and maintains control by using fear and intimidation. These behaviors can include the threat or use of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, psychological abuse and/or stalking.
Domestic violence, also known as relationship abuse, can be hard for others to spot from outside the relationship and is more prevalent than many of us may realize. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that:
- More than 12 million Americans are impacted by domestic violence every year.
- More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- Almost half of all men and women in the US have experienced psychological aggression from an intimate partner.
Domestic violence is not only dangerous and damaging for the victims of abuse but also for their children and loved ones. For children in particular, witnessing domestic violence can have long-lasting detrimental effects on their emotional health, social behavior, and academic performance.
How You Can Make a Difference
Supporting Domestic Violence Awareness Month, speaking up about this important issue, and finding ways to support survivors are all important steps you can take to make a difference in your community and to reduce the shame and stigma that survivors face.
“If you want to get involved and help, there are many ways to do so beginning with your own education,” advises Dr. Hamilton. “You can donate to and volunteer with shelters who protect people from domestic violence, you can write to your legislature about more stringent laws to protect people, and you can participate in the domestic violence organizations so that you are aware and abreast of the statistics and how it not only impacts partners but also children.”
The October 2020 South University Alumni Association’s Inaugural Virtual 5K Run is being used to bring attention to Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with all University alumni, students, staff, faculty and friends welcome to join the run and all proceeds from t-shirt sales benefitting the nonprofit organization Sistercare.
You can also use domesticshelters.org to search for a local organization that you can support, or connect with your state domestic violence coalition to find more ways to get involved.
How to Get Help
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit TheHotline.org to find help, resources, and a live chat feature. In an emergency, victims of domestic violence should call 911 or contact state or local law enforcement officials for immediate assistance.