October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) – which provides an opportunity to educate and engage our community and help people learn more about domestic violence and how as individuals and as a community we can work to break the cycle of abuse.
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of controlling behaviors intended to frighten, intimidate, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound an intimate partner. Contrary to popular perceptions, domestic violence is not solely physical. Emotional, verbal, sexual, and economic abuse are just as harmful and include isolation, sexual assault, intimidation, humiliation, and withholding financial support or information.
The statistics on domestic abuse are staggering. According to the Department of Justice, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the US. More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the US have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, and nearly half of both men and women have experienced psychological aggression by a partner in their lifetime, according to the CDC. A recent study presented by the American Psychological Association reported that 41% of teen girls and 37% of teen boys said they had been victims of dating abuse (read more here). Another study by the Avon Foundation and NO MORE found that while 53% of Americans 15 and older know a victim of domestic violence, only 33% of Americans have talked to their friends about abuse (more results here).
One way to fight domestic abuse is to challenge misconceptions and speak openly about it. In light of this, we were excited to see a great PSA campaign that was released last week by NO MORE, an organization that works to end the silence around domestic and sexual violence. To learn more about domestic abuse, you can attend an If These Walls Could Talk tour of the WCA, or bring a Tour in a Box information session to your workplace. The National Domestic Violence Hotline website also has great information and resources.
While the WCA has been busy organizing several events for DVAM, we work hard all year to provide safety, healing, and freedom to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as education and understanding to the general public. Our services include 24-hour domestic violence and rape crisis helplines, secure shelter, client advocates, court advocacy, case management, counseling, and weekly support groups that are open to the public.