End the Silence, Stop the Violence

Purple Ribbons symboling Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Photo courtesy of Maze Women's Sexual Health.

*Trigger warning: Domestic Violence/Abuse*

Did you know that every 9 seconds, a woman in the U.S. is beaten or assaulted by a current or ex-significant other? Or that 1 in 4 men are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner?

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Sadly many people overlook the importance of this month, but for millions of others, this month can make all the difference. Together we can end the silence and stop domestic violence.

Commonly, the word abuse is associated with physical violence, although mental, verbal, emotional and sexual violence are all forms of abuse.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of intimate physical violence every year.

This national observance evolved from “Day of Unity” held in October of 1981, by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The day then was changed into a week-long observation and from there, in 1987, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month was recognized for the first time. However, it wasn’t until 1989 that Congress passed Public Law 101-112, which officially made October National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Women 20-24 years of age are at the highest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.

Signs of abuse:

  • Hitting, beating, strangling, pushing, kicking, shoving, etc.
  • Making you have sex when you DO NOT want to have sex.
  • Extremely possessive and controlling, does not allow any freedoms within the relationship.
  • Jealousy, often resulting in isolation from friends and family.
  • Consistently putting you down or belittling you. (Intelligence, looks, interests, mental health, capabilities)

Reasons for not leaving:

  • Repeated abuse often resulting in little to no self-esteem.
  • Standard cycle of abuse, ‘honeymoon phase’ followed by a form of abuse and then back to the ‘honeymoon phase.’
  • They share a life with their abuser. (House, pets, children, etc.)
  • Lack of resources needed to leave. (Money, housing, food, etc.)
  • Abusers are incredibly manipulative; it is easy for victims to fall back into their control.
  • Stats are scary, and it is dangerous to depart from the situation.

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program reported that women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the weeks after leaving their partner than any other time in the relationship.

Now that you know some of the signs of abuse and reasons why people may not leave, here are ways that you can help a victim of abuse:

  • EDUCATE YOURSELF, do your research!
  • Find the resources that they need to get help.
  • Reach out to the person, show your support and supply them with the resources you found.
  • Do NOT confront the abuser or overstep boundaries! By doing this, it is not only dangerous for you but for the victim of the abuser as well.
  • Get involved locally! Donate your time or money to shelters and safe houses.

Abuse is about power and control. if the abuser does not have control over their victim they are not as powerful.

If you or someone you know needs help, here are resources available 24/7:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) OR online.

National Deaf Domestic Violence Hotline: Videophone 1-855-812-1001 or email nationaldeafhotline@adwas.org

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 717-545-6400 OR 800-553-2508 OR online.

However, if you are in immediate danger, call 911 right away.