October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this blog post seeks to: raise awareness about the prevalence of this pressing public health issue; delineate steps you can take to support a victim of domestic violence; and provide you with a course of action to help eradicate domestic violence.
For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Despite concerted efforts to eradicate domestic violence, data indicates that intimate partner violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless persons. Social science research indicates that one (1) in four (4) women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. [i] Indigent women are more vulnerable.
On average, more than three (3) women a day are murdered by their intimate partners in our country [ii]. Annually, women experience an estimated two (2) million women injuries resulting from an abusive relationship.[iii] Women who are between the ages of 20-24 years old are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.[iv] Research indicates that most incidents of domestic violence are not reported to the police. [v] The dearth of safe, decent, affordable housing causes many poor women to confront the unenviable choice of homelessness or remaining in a home plagued by violence and turmoil resulting from domestic violence.
If someone you know is being abused, the National Domestic Violence Hotline recommends that you do the following:
Listen to the victim. Tell the victim, “I believe you.”
Acknowledge the abuse and that the behavior is inappropriate. Tell the victim, “No one deserves to be abused.”
Respect the victim’s choices. Tell the victim, “It’s important for you to make decisions that are best for you.”
Be supportive—if the victim wants to file a police report and/or a restraining order offer to accompany them. Tell the victim, “You are NOT alone.”
Provide encouragement to the victim that might be feeling hopeless. Tell the victim, “The National Domestic Violence Hotline is anonymous and confidential and provides information and referrals. You could call them for help.”
Domestic violence thrives on apathy and ignorance. It can be eradicated with an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, here is a list of additional ways that you can help eradicate domestic: share domestic violence resources with a victim of abuse; volunteer at a domestic violence agency; speak out against domestic violence; donate money and/or items to your local domestic violence organization; donate your old cell telephone and its accessories via Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine; and encourage your community to support domestic violence services as well as hold perpetrators accountable for their illegal behavior.
[i] Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy, National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1993, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000).
[ii] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, December 2006.
[iii] CDC. Adverse Health Conditions & Health Risk: Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence. 2008. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, February 8, 2008.
[iv] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, December 2006.
[v] Frieze, I.H., Browne, A. (1989). Violence in Marriage. In L.E. Ohlin & M.H. Tonry (eds.) Family Violence, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Sources: Listed above including but not limited to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art