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Domestic Violence Awareness Month: What can you do to help?

Each minute in the U.S., an average of 20 people are subjected to physical abuse by an intimate partner. This amounts to over 10 million people a year. One in three women have been victims of domestic violence, as well as one in four men, and intimate partner violence accounts for a whopping 15% of all violent crime.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, the month began as only a day. The first “Day of Unity,” held in October 1981, was started by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Its purpose was to connect those who fought to end domestic violence for women and children across the nation. The day eventually expanded into a week, then into a month in 1987 when the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed.

The month is intended to bring awareness to these issues, and start a conversation about them. Some advocates say the best way to put an end to domestic abuse is to talk about it.

What is Domestic Violence?

The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines domestic abuse as “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” It encompasses a wide range of abuse, including emotional, physical and sexual, psychological, and economic.

Emotional and psychological abuse happens when a individuals disparage their partners and makes them feel bad about themselves. Humiliation, mind games, and isolation are often used, as well as threats and controlling who a person sees or talks to.

A person is economically abused when he or she is cut off from finances, not allowed to keep the money earned from working, or not permitted to hold a job at all.

Domestic abusers often use more than one form of abuse to control their partners.

How can I get help as a victim?

There are many resources available for someone who is a victim of domestic violence and is seeking help.

A safety plan can be a vital source to a victim of domestic violence.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers assistance creating a safety plan for victims. A safety plan prepares a strategy on how to stay safe while remaining in an abusive relationship, while planning to leave, and after leaving the relationship. The plan includes ways to cope with the emotional toll as well as telling friends and family members about the abuse.

How can I help as a bystander?

NO MORE suggests ways a friend or family member can help a victim of domestic violence.

-Listen to victims without judging what they are saying.

-Let victims know that you believe what they are telling you, and that the abuse isn’t their fault.

-Ask them what you can do to help.

-Support whatever decisions they choose to make, regardless if you agree with them.

-Finally, make sure you are taking care of yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed by the situation.

Even if you don’t personally know a victim of domestic violence, or are unable to help in these ways, experts say just speaking up about the issue helps to bring an end to it. Domestic violence can only persist if it’s never discussed.

If you or someone who know is a victim of domestic violence, help is available.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
www.thehotline.org
1-800-799-SAFE (7233) / 1-800-787-3224 TTY
Secure online chat: http://www.thehotline.org/whatis-live-chat/

National Dating Abuse Helpline
www.loveisrespect.org
1-866-331-9474 / Text “loveis” to 22522
Secure online chat: http://www.loveisrespect.org/get-help/contact-us/chat-with-us

[Feature photo: Pexels]