Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2023
Many believe that the effects of domestic violence are limited to the abuser and the victim, but as the U.S. Department of Justice’s own Office on Violence Against Women states, “domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large.” As we recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2023, let us take this as an opportunity to bring domestic abuse out of the “shadows” and address it as the societal-wide crisis that it is.
This would also be a good time to remind folks that this blog discusses domestic violence. If you are in immediate danger or know of someone in immediate danger, dial 911. You can also review these national, regional, and local resources for help.
In this blog you will learn the following:
- What month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
- What is domestic violence?
- How can we empower survivors of domestic violence?
- How should we be talking about domestic violence?
- What are effective ways we can support domestic violence prevention programs?
What month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is observed every October to bring awareness to a pervasive yet often hidden issue: domestic violence.
Called the “Shadow Pandemic,” domestic violence increased at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic with lockdowns creating even more isolation for survivors. This fact, coupled with unemployment, financial stress, and increased tensions, along with fewer opportunities to screen for domestic violence and fewer resources available for an already overworked domestic violence hotline system, led to an increased prevalence.
This October, it is critically important that we remember that domestic violence is still prevalent and needs collective voices and support to advocate for change.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is not confined to any particular race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or socioeconomic status. It is a pattern of abusive behavior that can take various forms, including physical, emotional, financial, psychological, reproductive, and technological abuse.
Understanding the different facets of domestic violence is essential to providing support to survivors and preventing future instances.
I believe all survivors. This also applies to domestic violence survivors.
On average, it takes survivors of domestic violence seven attempts to leave their abuser for good. This is a dynamic of the cycle of abuse that also further isolates a survivor. A survivor can have the courage and support system to be able to leave but then get lured back for countless reasons (for example, housing, financial security, or false promises). Over time, their support system may lessen if they continually go back, making it harder to leave again.
This is why it is always important to believe a survivor even if you do not understand why they continue to go back to their abuser.
And a note on the Healthline infographic shared in this section: although most research presents statistics into binary categories of men and women, it is important to recognize that people of all gender identities can be survivors of domestic or intimate partner violence. Because of this, more services are needed that affirm a survivor’s gender.
Empowering Survivors of Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2023 is an opportunity to empower survivors of domestic violence by giving them a platform to share their stories and seek assistance.
Many survivors suffer in silence due to fear, shame, or a lack of resources. Although this month may bring awareness to the issue, ongoing work is needed all year to support survivors to break the cycle of abuse, seek help, and find their voice.
One of the primary goals of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is to raise public awareness about the prevalence and impact of domestic violence. This includes dispelling myths and misconceptions about domestic violence, such as the idea that it only involves physical violence.
Invisible wounds, whether injuries hidden under clothes or psychological harm not seen by outsiders are often harder to overcome. People generally have empathy for things they can see but struggle with showing empathy to the unknown.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month also brings attention to these disparities of domestic violence and marginalized communities and highlights the need for culturally sensitive services and support. It encourages us to address the intersectionality of domestic violence with other issues like racism, poverty, and discrimination.
How to Help Victims of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is not just a private matter; it’s a societal problem that requires collective action to address.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month encourages individuals, organizations, and policymakers to advocate for change, pushing for legislation and policies that protect survivors and hold abusers accountable. Increased awareness can lead to more funding for shelters, counseling services, and legal support for victims.
What can you commit to this month advocating for change?
Supporting Domestic Violence Prevention Programs
Preventing domestic violence is as crucial as supporting survivors. Domestic Violence Awareness Month promotes programs that focus on prevention like educating about healthy relationships, media literacy, and bystander intervention as some possibilities.
More work also needs to be done focusing on abusers. Addressing these root causes of domestic violence, we can hope to reduce its prevalence in future generations. Having open and honest conversations is one step in breaking the silence surrounding domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month provides a safe space for individuals to discuss their experiences, concerns, and questions. Encouraging these dialogues can help reduce the stigma associated with domestic violence and encourage survivors to seek help.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month serves as a critical reminder that more work is needed to address domestic violence. It’s a time to come together as a community to support survivors, raise awareness, and advocate for change. It takes all of us to make a difference. Stand with me believing and supporting survivors, choosing to disrupt the culture, and preventing domestic violence.
About the Author
Kristine Seitz, MEd, MSW, LSW, is a New Jersey Staff Therapist at the Council for Relationships. If you have questions about Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2023, domestic violence, or her availability to see new clients, go here.
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