Love. A relationship can be enchanting, alluring, enduring. Love can feel like the best thing in the world, drawing you in, closer to your partner, filling the places in your heart that were once empty. It is an emotion many people crave, long for, and lust after. Unfortunately, it is also a feeling that many people take advantage of.
Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that affects both men and women from all ethnicities and backgrounds. It involves a broad spectrum of offenses that range anywhere from physical to emotional abuse, manipulation, threats, isolation, and more. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and marks a time for us to stand up against relationship abuse–just like we should all year long. First initiated in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a day of unity for battered women advocates, domestic violence awareness has evolved into its own month of campaigns, hotlines, and pledges. The goal is to create a safer community and to remind all of our community members that consent is essential to creating a safe environment built on mutual respect for one another. This is a goal we still have not reached as a country, which is why this month still plays a pivotal role in breaking the cycle of abuse.
As a country we have come a long way in our pursuit for justice. However, it is not enough until the number of domestic violence victims reaches zero and that is the new norm for the United States. In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act passed, which produced new legislation against offenders and offered services to survivors in need. From 1993 to 2010, records show that the overall rate of domestic violence dropped almost two-thirds. This is solid evidence that pushing for awareness produces results. We can’t allow all the progress that has been achieved to backslide, thus we must keep pushing forward until the problem is no longer an issue.
The Domestic Violence Awareness Project is a great resource if you are wondering how you can get involved with speaking up and giving your voice power. The project is coordinated by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and provides definitions for domestic violence, awareness highlights, campaign ideas, and more. This can serve as a great start for talking points with your peers. Speaking up about domestic violence can educate those around you and provide powerful discussion that may save a life in the future.
Making your voice heard can be scary. But the consequences of staying silent are terrifying.