Since 1987, October has been recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month to raise awareness for issues related to domestic violence, sexual abuse, and similar issues. As October ends, supporting victims and survivors of domestic violence does not. We, as a society, must continue to connect individuals with organizations who can help those suffering from domestic violence throughout the year.
Domestic violence is not an easy issue to discuss with friends or family. Read on for information and resources on domestic violence and how you can help.
Things to Remember:
- Domestic violence and sexual abuse are about power and control, led by a desire to humiliate, and subjugate another person. Nothing more.
- It doesn’t matter what age, race, gender, religion, or economic status a person may be; anyone is subject to rape, violence, psychological abuse and stalking by those they trust the most.
- Domestic violence happens in part because there is a stigma of shame associated with being mentally and physically abused. Speaking openly about domestic violence and sexual abuse will help mitigate the stigma and give the victim comfort in seeking the support they deserve.
- There’s no one way to respond to all situations.
Recognizing the Signs That Could Lead to Domestic Violence and Abuse
- There’s a difference between healthy, respectful behavior and violent, abusive behavior. Some things that may seem inappropriate or disrespectful could simply be a misunderstanding. However, if you see someone being overtly inappropriate, coercive, or harassing, it may be time to evaluate and, if necessary, remove yourself or someone else from the situation.
- Changes in someone’s behavior could also indicate that they are part of a dangerous or violent relationship. If someone you know has always been an outspoken extrovert and is suddenly absent from typical events, doesn’t call or speak to you, or feels passive or reflexive when you’re around them, it may be time to learn how to approach them to find out if your instincts are correct.
Dos and Don’ts for Dealing with Domestic Violence
If someone comes to you with their story:
- Listen without judgement. Sometimes this is all someone needs.
- Let them know you believe them and that it’s not their fault
- Make sure they know they are not alone.
- Respect their story and keep it confidential.
- Ask what more you can do to help and support them in whatever they decide.
- Seek help for yourself if you feel overwhelmed.
- Do not focus on what the victim could or couldn’t have done to stop it.
If you witness domestic abuse:
- Cause a distraction. This can be done by changing the subject, telling a joke, or asking for help looking for something.
- Find a way to remove yourself or the person being abused from the situation.
- Seek help from others to deescalate the situation or call the authorities.
- Do not directly intervene if abuse has escalated to physical violence.
Everyone must stay vigilant when it comes to ending domestic violence. Speak up, educate yourself, and help whenever possible.
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) – Learn more about improving community awareness.
Nomore.org – Learn more about what to look for and when and how to step in when someone you know is being abused.
Domestic Violence Awareness Project – Find plenty of free downloads to support domestic violence awareness and prevention.