To many in our community, October is a month for visiting pumpkin patches and apple orchards, viewing the gorgeous changing leaves, and preparing for Halloween. But for those of us whose lives have been affected by domestic violence, October has a different meaning: a time to raise awareness for domestic violence. This month, we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we ask you to participate to help us reach our goals of raising awareness and ultimately ending the violence.
Why do we need to raise awareness for domestic violence? This issue is one that touches so many lives across the country and in our own community — but it is something that is rarely discussed. The statistics are shocking: 1 in 4 women has experienced intimate partner violence in her lifetime, and almost 75% of Americans personally know someone who has been a victim of domestic violence. In 2015, there were 146 domestic-violence related fatalities in Pennsylvania alone. On just one day in Pennsylvania, 2,498 victims of domestic violence were served by domestic violence programs across the state. On that same day, 744 hotline calls were answered in Pennsylvania. If those numbers are an accurate portrayal of a typical day for domestic violence programs, then roughly 885,000 Pennsylvanians receive domestic violence services every year, and hotlines receive 287,000 calls each year.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month was first observed in 1981, as a national day of unity. It was established by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to help raise awareness and ensure that victims know that help is available if they need it. Since 1981, we have made a lot of progress towards both of these goals — but there is still work to be done.
If you would like to get involved in Domestic Violence Awareness Month, there are many things that you can do. The first — and perhaps simplest — step to take is to change your social media profile picture to a purple ribbon, like the one pictured. You can also make a donation to Blackburn Center in honor of the people in your life who have been impacted by domestic violence, or to help us continue to provide vital services to victims. You can wear purple (or just a purple ribbon) during October, and use this as an opportunity to talk to people about domestic violence. If you'd like to get personally involved in our mission, you can join our Men As Allies or Future Advocates of Blackburn (FAB) groups. You can also volunteer with Blackburn Center to join the fight in ending domestic violence in our community.
This month, remember that domestic violence thrives in silence — but if we take a stand and work together, we can end domestic violence.