By Katie Stanton
Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the YWCA has been raising awareness about domestic violence across the country through campaigns like Week Without Violence and the Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse. Domestic violence affects women of all ages, races and ethnicities, socioeconomic levels and educational backgrounds. It is pervasive: according to the CDC, an average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States.
Share the stories below to help us raise awareness about domestic violence and what can be done to end it. And visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for information, resources and more.
1. October symbolizes many awareness movements, including both Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness. We should not create a competition for these issues during October; rather, we should find ways to amplify both messages for women who may be impacted by either, or both, of these.
Pink & Purple: Creating a New Movement and Conversation, by Sunny Slaughter, YWCA Knoxville Blog
“As the daughter, family member and friend of many who either directly or indirectly have been affected by breast cancer, I proudly support the cause and can flaunt the pink as well. But in the same breath and stride—as a once victim, now survivor and a staunch advocate who has shared my own story, wiped tears, held hands, prepared victims and survivors for trial, sat in the courtroom with the families of murdered victims and ultimately became a federally certified law enforcement instructor on DV—I strut the purple and the passion 365.”
2. Over the years, Domestic Violence Awareness Month has made a difference in how survivors are treated by law enforcement and medical professionals. The month was first observed in 1987, the same year that the first toll-free domestic violence hotline was founded.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month brings hope to a survivor, by Helen Ubinas, Philadelphia Inquirer
“It starts with people understanding how far-reaching the effects of domestic abuse are, said Brenda Shelton-Dunston, executive director of the Black Women’s Health Alliance. The impact includes physical, emotional and financial abuse. In one study about the barriers to employment resulting from domestic violence, one-third were beaten to the point that they could not work.”
3. Increased awareness has also led to legislative changes on the local, state and federal levels. For example, in Massachusetts this week, a bill has passed the state Senate allowing employers of companies with 50 or more employees to allow 15 days of leave per year for survivors to deal with domestic violence situations, as well as other helpful provisions.
Massachusetts Senate passes bills adding protection to domestic violence victims, extending parental leave rights to fathers, by Andy Metzger, MassLive.com
“Spurred by the shocking murder of Jennifer Martel over the summer, House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said the lower chamber plans to address domestic violence this year. Martel’s boyfriend, Jared Remy, son of the Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy, had recently been arrested for a domestic assault when he allegedly stabbed Martel to death.
‘I certainly hope it gets taken up,’ Creem said, of the legislation. She said, ‘I don’t think we’re ever going to eradicate domestic violence.'”
4. For women of color, particularly Native Americans, the rate of abuse is very high. For example, almost 50% of Native American women have been raped, beaten or stalked by an intimate partner, according to the Department of Justice.
How Women of Color Are Disproportionately Impacted By Domestic Violence, by Carimah Townes, ThinkProgress
“To worsen matters, many states with large black and Hispanic populations are refusing to adopt key aspects of the Affordable Care Act, like the optional Medicaid expansion. That ensures discrepancies in health coverage will undoubtedly persist. Altogether, many women of color who fall victim to domestic violence may be prevented from accessing the necessary medical attention afterwards — especially with regard to chronic illness.
One-third of women subjected to domestic violence seek the help of health professionals, and almost 100 percent of women agreed that domestic violence should be a focal point of medical examinations. Nevertheless, due to inequalities in the national healthcare system, a significant number of female victims will neither be informed of chronic illnesses as they pertain to domestic abuse, nor have the opportunity to receive proper care.”
5. The financial aspect of domestic violence is often overlooked, but financial independence is critical for survivors to find their freedom from abuse. Taking charge of your assets and encouraging others to do the same is a good way to celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Begin To Secure Your Financial Future, by Jeff Landers, Forbes
“If it’s possible to do so safely, you should:
- Make copies of financial and legal documents such as bank and credit card statements, documentation of jointly held assets, and tax returns. Keep them in a safe place outside your home.
- Get a post office box so you can receive mail privately.
- Use a public computer to set up a secret email account to communicate with divorce professionals. (A controlling or abusive husband might install spyware on home computers, tablets or smartphones.)
- Open a bank account in your own name and start stashing money away. If you can, transfer all of your own assets (paycheck, savings, etc.) into a separate bank account.
- Change all your PINs to new ones that can’t easily be identified.”
If you have a story that needs to be shared, let us know! Leave a link in the comments or send us a Tweet at @YWCAUSA.