Domestic Violence Awareness

Domestic Violence Awareness

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the USA. Incredibly enough though, it’s not listed on the Wiki page of October observances which are:

  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • Filipino American History Month
  • Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month 
  • LGBT History Month
  • Miscarriage Awareness Month
  • National Arts & Humanities Month
  • National Bullying Prevention Month
  • National Cyber Security Awareness Month
  • National Disability Employment Awareness Month
  • National Hispanic Heritage Month
  • National Pizza Month
  • National Work and Family Month
  • Polish American Heritage Month

National PIZZA Month is included, but not DV Awareness Month. America, like the rest of the world, is ignorant about domestic violence, even when it’s happening right under their noses. Domestic violence is not taken seriously even though on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

I’ve personally learned that my abuse is insignificant within my own family. To give to the Chicago Cubs charity foundation because your beloved uncle was on the team eons ago instead of giving to the DV center that saved one of your own from probable death speaks volumes. To Walk for Hunger or donate to Autism Speaks or St. Jude’s Hospital are all admirable charitable endeavors. To do it in spite of the fact that you are 1 degree away from someone who barely escaped death due to DV illustrates that you don’t take their DV experience seriously. It also confirms that you think very little of that person, or perhaps you don’t think of them at all.

I am a survivor and I pay it forward by working for a domestic violence shelter. I will continue speaking up for DV victims and I will advocate for gun reform (a gun in the home increases an abused woman’s chances of being murdered by 500%), the VAWA Act, DV homelessness, teen awareness and overall DV education. Below is a list of questions to ask yourself if you think it’s happening to you or someone you care about.

Do you…..

  • Worry that your relationship isn’t healthy?
  • Dread going home?
  • Feel afraid of your partner?
  • Go to great lengths to avoid making your partner angry?
  • Feel like you can’t do anything right in your relationship?
  • Feel like you have no control over your life?
  • Feel emotionally numb, or overwhelmed or helpless because of your relationship?
  • Worry about the safety of others you love?
  • See that your connections to friends and family are shrinking?
  • No longer do activities you love?

Does your partner…

  • Criticize you for little things?
  • Blame you for their actions?
  • Call you names, put you down or humiliate you?
  • Demand to know where you are at all times?
  • Control what you do or where you go?
  • Force you to stop seeing family or friends?
  • Get jealous for no reason?
  • Control your money?
  • Manipulate you into doing things you don’t want to do?
  • Do things to make you feel like you’re going crazy?
  • Trap you, or limit your movement in your home?
  • Try to sabotage your job or other activities you care about?
  • Force you to either take or stop taking birth control?
  • Force you to use alcohol or drugs?
  • Force you to do something illegal?
  • Threaten to turn you in to immigration authorities?
  • Threaten to hurt you, your child, other family members or your pet?
  • Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
  • Display a gun or other weapon to send a message to you?
  • Force you to have sex?
  • Hit, punch, grab, push, burn, strangle or otherwise physically hurt you?

Do you wonder why women stay in abusive relationships? They stay because they…

  • Love or appreciate their partner and simply want the abuse to stop
  • Believe their children are better off with two parents
  • Are afraid of losing custody of their children
  • Are afraid their children will be harmed
  • Are afraid of possible police involvement
  • Know their partner has threatened family or friends
  • Are afraid their partner will kill themselves
  • May have no job skills or have been out of the workforce for some time
  • Will become homeless if they leave
  • Are worried their partner will sabotage their job
  • Don’t want to leave their pets behind
  • Are afraid their possessions might be destroyed
  • No longer feel confident or have strong self-esteem
  • Have depression, PTSD, or traumatic brain injury
  • Have a disability and will be losing their caretaker
  • Don’t have legal immigration status, so can’t legally work or access certain public benefits
  • Fear deportation
  • Have become dependent on drugs or alcohol
  • No longer have a support system
  • Are being pressured by family to stay
  • Are facing religious or cultural pressures to stay
  • Are afraid their partner will kill them

And finally, victim-blaming is WRONG. For all the above reasons, battered women (and men) feel gaslighted, guilty, responsible, hopeless and fearful of their abusers. We are far from perfect people. We make mistakes. But victim-blaming attitudes marginalize the victim. Victim-blaming also reinforces what the abuser has been saying all along; that it is the victim’s fault this is happening. It is NOT the victim’s fault or responsibility to fix the situation; it is the abuser’s choice. By engaging in victim-blaming, you allow the abuser to perpetrate relationship abuse.

If you think you or someone you care about is being abused, there is help available at 1-800-799-7233.

If you are in my gene pool, maybe the next time you want to feel good about your charitable self you’ll consider donating to the center that saved my life.

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