October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month — a month where we are encouraged to wear a purple ribbon and raise awareness about the problem of domestic violence in our country. Started in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to connect advocates across the country, it has evolved into a month-long spotlight on the issues surrounding these issues.
Domestic violence involving physical assault affects more than 10 million women and men each year in the United States. This does not include the millions of Americans who are subjected to other types of domestic abuse that are may not be reported, such as:
Verbal or emotional abuse
Destruction of property
Harm to pets
On a typical day in the United States, victims make more than 20,000 phone calls to domestic violence hotlines across the country.
These numbers may seem shocking — but they represent only those who have reported their abuse. There are millions more victims who have never called a hotline, disclosed to a friend, or made a report to the police. Domestic violence is a massive problem in our country, fueled by inequality, the objectification and degradation of women, harmful gender norms, and a society that accepts this type of violence as inevitable.
While wearing purple ribbons is an important way to raise awareness this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we believe that there is so much more that each of us can do to be part of the solution. We encourage you to wear a purple ribbon, change your profile picture on social media, and tweet or share about #DVAM — but ask you to take some additional steps in October as well.
1. Call Your Senators and Ask Them to Support the Reauthorization of VAWA.
The Violence Against Women Act has not been reauthorized —which is unprecedented in the 25 year history of the act. After passing the House, it is waiting for consideration by the Senate. This October, commit to calling, emailing, faxing, and/or visiting your Senators to ask them to support the reauthorization of VAWA. Click here to find your Senators, then read our script for talking points.
2. Get Involved in Your Community.
The best way to take a stand against domestic violence isn’t to wear a purple ribbon, or to tweet about it (although those things help!). It’s to get involved with an organization in your community that is dedicated to ending this type of violence. We offer a number of ways to get involved:
Joining our Fearless Advocacy for Men’s Engagement (FAME) group
Joining our group for women who want to learn more about being allies to other women
Want to learn more? Click through the links, or contact us!
3. Speak Up.
We have all be in a situation where a friend, colleague, family member or even a complete stranger says something offensive about domestic violence. You may have even read a headline in a newspaper where domestic violence is described as a “lovers quarrel” or in another inaccurate way.
This is your opportunity to take a stand. It isn’t always easy, but speaking out when you hear something can help combat a culture that accepts domestic violence as acceptable. You don’t have to have an argument or be aggressive in your approach. For example, you can say something as simple as, “I don’t get it” if someone makes a joke about domestic violence — forcing them to explain the “joke” will often change the entire dynamic.
Of course, you should only speak up if it is safe to do so. If you are concerned for your physical safety, you should avoid putting yourself in a position where you could be harmed by saying something. You should also avoid speaking up if doing so would put someone else in danger of physical harm. Otherwise — practice taking a stand and seeing how you can change the world for the better!
4. Schedule a Program.
We know that it can be overwhelming to think about tackling a big problem like domestic violence. One way to start is by scheduling a training or education program for your organization, community group, business, or school. Learning about issues such as domestic violence can lead to a better understanding of the scope of the problem — and may help to address some of the underlying causes. We offer:
School programs, for preschool through college-age
Educational programs for organizations and community groups
Bystander intervention trainings: Blackburn’s goal is to create a community of engaged bystanders who will intervene in some way to interrupt or prevent violence.
Trainings for police, medical personnel, teachers, counselors, social workers, and other professionals.
We provide these programs free of charge. Reach out to us if you would like to set up an education or training program.
This October, we want you to wear purple ribbons — but we want you to do more. Is there anything that you would add to the list?
Education and Training