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Step Up, Speak Up: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence awareness is critical. It’s not a comfortable topic to talk about, and it’s a heartbreaking reality to face.

The sun was pouring through the windows of my house the morning I fled. Grabbing three trash bags of my most essential belongings and my pets, we ran for safety. I had exactly ten minutes to get out. My abusive husband wouldn’t hesitate to take my life if he caught me. I had discovered that morning that he already had a detailed plan to do it.

In the years and months after my escape, I came to realize the importance of domestic violence awareness. Almost everyone who knew me, including my parents, later told me they had no idea about the depths of abuse I faced in my marriage. It was a painful secret I kept until it became a matter of life or death.

An Uncomfortable Topic

Domestic abuse was not discussed when I was growing up — whether in school, church, or my family — and I was ignorant of the warning signs. In recent years I have had conversations with beloved friends who I had no idea were also struggling with abuse and violence in their own marriages. It is disturbing to know how rampant abuse like this runs. 

Domestic violence awareness is critical. It’s not a comfortable topic to talk about, and it’s a heartbreaking reality to face. The truth is that domestic violence runs rampant in our society. Everyone knows someone who has faced it. So, talking about domestic violence helps bring it into the light. And when you pull something out of the darkness and into the light it helps to remove the fear and stigma surrounding it. Also, it brings hope and support to those who might otherwise have none. Overall, domestic violence awareness is critical to bring healing to hurting families.  

What is Domestic Violence?

The United Nations defines domestic violence as “a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.”

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. Men and women of any race, age, class, or faith can be the targets of such behavior. However, domestic violence doesn’t stop at abuse between partners — it often includes children and other members of a family. Domestic violence can do tremendous damage to a family and have a lasting impact for generations.

More Than Hitting

It is critical to note that domestic violence can be far more than one person hitting or physically injuring another. Domestic abuse can be:

  • Physical
  • Verbal
  • Emotional
  • Psychological
  • Financial
  • Sexual
  • Spiritual

Many men and women believe that if “he/she didn’t hit me,” they are not domestic abuse victims. While physical battering does put a person in danger, the other methods of abuse are just as deliberate, debilitating, and damaging. It is critical to raise awareness that these types of abuse not only happen but are shockingly common. We must find ways to help victims out of these situations, help survivors thrive, and prevent abuse from happening.

Close up of a young, pensive Asian woman listening to someone talking to her on her phone

Talk to a Counselor

If you need further guidance and encouragement, we have a staff of licensed, professional counselors who offer a one-time complimentary consultation from a Christian perspective. They can also refer you to counselors in your area for ongoing assistance.
Reach a counselor toll-free at 1-855-771-HELP (4357).

Important Stats

How prevalent is domestic violence in our country? The following statistics may surprise you.

  • On average, 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. Ten million men and women face physical abuse yearly in the United States.
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced physical violence, such as pushing, slapping, and shoving. Of those, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence such as beating or strangling.
  • 50% of people have experienced emotional abuse.
  • 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by their partner to the point they felt threatened and fearful.
  • 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner.
  • 1 in 4 Christian marriages includes abuse. People in Christian marriages tend to stay longer than non-believers.
  • 1 in 15 children is exposed to domestic violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to the violence.
  • 1 in 3 children who witness domestic violence are also victims of child abuse.
  • More than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines daily.

Everyone knows someone who is a victim or a survivor of domestic abuse. If you think you don’t know someone who is or who has faced this, think again. Victims overwhelmingly hide abuse because they are afraid that exposing it will make things worse or put them in even more danger. Therefore, it is critical to stay aware and if you see something, say something.

Impacts of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can have a long-lasting and devastating impact on a family. Spouses and children who are the targets of abuse have higher rates of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and suicidal behavior. Victims of domestic violence are at higher risk for developing drug, tobacco, and alcohol addictions.

The effects of abuse don’t stop with the victim. Children who witness domestic violence and abuse are three times more likely to engage in violent and aggressive behavior than their peers. Children also have increased anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares, and difficulty concentrating.

Current studies are being done that theorize that trauma caused by domestic violence can make a genetic mark on our DNA and be passed down to further generations.

The importance of raising awareness about domestic violence and its impacts cannot be understated. God can do miracles and provide incredible healing, but we also must take steps to fight this heartbreaking darkness.

Resources for Victims and Survivors

If you or someone you know is currently in a domestic violence situation, here are resources that can help.

  • If you are in a life-threatening situation, call 911.
  • Call the Domestic Abuse Hotline or your local domestic violence resource center. It may be advisable to reach out to them using a phone or computer that your spouse cannot monitor (for example, a neighbor’s phone, the library’s computer, etc.).
  • Reach out to a licensed counselor specializing in domestic violence and abuse.
  • Make an escape plan. If you have five minutes to leave, you need to know:
    • When will you leave?
    • Where will you go?
    • What essential things (birth certificates, paperwork, bank information, clothing, medications, etc.) will you take with you?
  • Build the strongest support system you can. Tell others about what is happening and create a code word that will alert them that they need to call the police.
  • Reach out to your church and pastors.
  • Pay attention to your physical reactions, thoughts, and gut feelings. Often the Holy Spirit will try to warn us if something is not right, and God wired our bodies to sense danger before our brains even realize something is wrong.
  • Set boundaries in your marriage
  • Talk to your kids. Let them know that the abusive parent’s behavior is inappropriate and that the other parent’s behavior is not your child’s fault. Listen to your kids when they bring concerns to you. You can also help them by letting them talk with a counselor.

For more information, further reading,  and educational resources, visit: 

8 Ways to Contribute to Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Now that you have a better understanding of what domestic violence is and how critical it is to raise awareness, how can you help? October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. While efforts to raise awareness and give help continue all year, this is a great time to learn more and help others understand what a devastating and critical issue we face.

Here are eight ways that you can help raise awareness.

  1. Attend an Event: Many events online and in your local area for domestic violence awareness during October will seek to educate and raise awareness. For example, you might join a walk or rally or listen to a guest speaker discuss this critical issue.
  2. Wear Purple: Purple is the color for domestic violence awareness. Consider wearing a purple ribbon in some fashion or purple clothing to demonstrate your support.
  3. Advocate for Reform: Reach out to your state legislators and emphasize the need for domestic violence resources and stricter penalties for abusers.
  4. Donate to a Shelter or Family in Need: Many families who have escaped from abuse end up in a shelter for some time. If you can’t donate financially, consider donating clothing and essential hygiene items to help. Some organizations help survivors get back on their feet and start fresh, and they need donations to do so.
  5. Hold a Fundraiser: Hold a fundraiser to raise awareness and money to help victims and survivors. Get creative and have fun with it. Have your friends and family join you – the more, the merrier!
  6. Listen to a Podcast or Read Articles: Take the time to listen to some podcasts and read articles about domestic violence. Share them on your social media and discuss them with others.
  7. Start the Conversation: Speak up about domestic violence. If you see something that concerns you, report it. If you suspect someone is facing these issues, be a listening ear. Sometimes just having someone believe you can make all the difference. 
  8. Get Your Church Involved: Have a discussion with the leaders in your church about how you can minister to the families in your church who are struggling with abuse. Create resources and a plan for how your church family can support them.

What other ways can you think of to become engaged in Domestic Violence Awareness Month? Let us know!

Christ calls us as His followers to come alongside the hurting and to be beacons of His light. Domestic violence was never God’s plan for marriage and grieves His heart. So, Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an excellent opportunity to reach out, stand up, and speak out about this issue, and share the love of Christ with those who are hurting. 

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