October is Dedicated to Domestic Violence Awareness
Domestic violence touches people all around us, male and female, dating or married, of any age and race. It can include physical, mental, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, as well as economic deprivation. Sadly, domestic abuse is not rare: according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in the United States, “1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes”.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Many times, victims of domestic violence don’t tell people what is happening to them, so they are further isolated in their terror. Some signs of domestic violence can include:
• Having unexplained injuries / wearing long sleeves or sunglasses at inappropriate times (to conceal injuries)
• Arriving early or staying late for work
• Appearing fatigued
• Exhibiting fear, anxiety or depression
• Startling easily
• Showing a decrease in productivity
• Taking a lot of unplanned time off
As an outsider, it is easy to say, “Why don’t they just leave”? For many reasons, walking away is not a simple solution. Fear, embarrassment, lack of financial resources, and shame of breaking up their family are just a few of the many reasons that people feel forced to stay in an abusive situation. On average, it takes a victim 7 attempts to leave before staying away for good.
What can you do to help?
• Listen without judgement
• Let them know that you believe them
• Ask what you can do to help—sometimes, the first step to empowering someone to leave a bad situation is simply knowing they have someone they can trust
• Support their decisions—it is critical for the person to regain a sense of control, and they may not be ready to speak to the police
• Encourage them to reach out to the national hotlines for help and guidance
• If you need help figuring out how to support someone else, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can assist—it is free and confidential.
Abuse is about power and control, but you can make it stop. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you do have options. You are not alone, it is not your fault, you are not stuck, and there are people who can help. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit the following websites for more information and resources:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline:
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
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