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{October 12, 2009}   Domestic Violence Awareness Month – October 2009

Domestic Violence Awareness MonthNot only is October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it’s also the unfortunately lesser known Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Silence hides violence and it needs to end now. Below are some statistics of just how rampant this problem really is. Granted, through the hard work of the people spearheading this campaign, the amount of domestic violence related homicides have decreased in number in the past few years, but until that number is zero, we haven’t done enough to raise awareness and stop the cycle of domestic violence.

From Barack Obama:

“Domestic violence touches the lives of Americans of all ages, leaving a devastating impact on women, men, and children of every background and circumstance. A family’s home becomes a place of fear, hopelessness, and desperation when a woman is battered by her partner, a child witnesses the abuse of a loved one, or a senior is victimized by family members. Since the 1994 passage of the landmark Violence Against Women Act, championed by then Senator Joe Biden, our Nation has strengthened its response to this crime and increased services for victims. Still, far too many women and families in this country and around the world are affected by domestic violence. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we recommit ourselves to ending violence within our homes, our communities, and our country.

To effectively respond to domestic violence, we must provide assistance and support that meets the immediate needs of victims. Facing social isolation, victims can find it difficult to protect themselves and their children. They require safe shelter and housing, medical care, access to justice, culturally specific services, and economic opportunity. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act supports emergency shelters, crisis intervention programs, and community education about domestic violence.

In the best of economic times, victims worry about finding a job and housing, and providing for their children; these problems only intensify during periods of financial stress. That is why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $325 million for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). This funding will supplement the Federal VAWA and VOCA dollars that flow to communities every year, and enable States, local governments, tribes, and victim service providers to retain and hire personnel that can serve victims and hold offenders accountable. These funds will also bring relief to victims seeking a safe place to live for themselves and their children.

Victims of violence often suffer in silence, not knowing where to turn, with little or no guidance and support. Sadly, this tragedy does not just affect adults. Even when children are not directly injured by violence, exposure to violence in the home can contribute to behavioral, social, and emotional problems. High school students who report having experienced physical violence in a dating relationship are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, are at greater risk of suicide, and may carry patterns of abuse into future relationships. Our efforts to address domestic violence must include these young victims.

During this month, we rededicate ourselves to breaking the cycle of violence. By providing young people with education about healthy relationships, and by changing attitudes that support violence, we recognize that domestic violence can be prevented. We must build the capacity of our Nation’s victim service providers to reach and serve those in need. We urge community leaders to raise awareness and bring attention to this quiet crisis. And across America, we encourage victims and their families to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Together, we must ensure that, in America, no victim of domestic violence ever struggles alone.”

Some of the shocking statistics:

One quarter of women nationally have been victims of domestic violence. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, July     2000. The Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman’s Lifespan: 1998 Survey of Women’s Health, 1999)

– Between 600,000 and 6 million women are victims of domestic violence each year, and between 100,000 and 6 million men, depending on the type of survey used to obtain the data. (Rennison, C. (2003, Feb).  Intimate partner violence.  Us. Dpt. of Justice/Office of Justice Programs.  NXJ 197838. Straus, M. & Gelles, R. (1990).  Physical violence in American families.  New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000).  Extent, nature, and consequences of intimate partner violence.  National Institute of Justice, NCJ 181867.)

– Nearly 2.2 million people called a domestic violence crisis or hot line in 2004 to escape crisis situations, seek advice, or assist someone they thought might be victims (National Network to End Domestic Violence)

Studies show that access to shelter services leads to a 60-70% reduction in incidence and severity of re-assault during the 3-12 months’ follow up period compared to women who did not access shelter. Shelter services led to greater reduction in severe re-assault than did seeking court or law enforcement protection, or moving to a new location. (Campbell, JC, PhD, RN, FAAN. Anna D. Wolf, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Protective Action and Re-assault: Findings from the RAVE study.)

Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. 30% of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year. (Allstate Foundation National Poll on Domestic Violence, 2006. Lieberman Research Inc., Tracking Survey conducted for The Advertising Council and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, July – October 1996)

Studies suggest that between 3.3 – 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. (Carlson, Bonnie E. (1984). Children’s observations of interpersonal violence. Pp. 147-167 in A.R. Roberts (Ed.) Battered women and their families (pp. 147-167). NY: Springer. Straus, M.A. (1992). Children as witnesses to marital violence: A risk factor for lifelong problems among a nationally representative sample of American men and women. Report of the Twenty-Third Ross Roundtable. Columbus, OH: Ross Laboratories.)

These statistics are simply ridiculous and it’s time to stop the cycle of domestic violence.

Here’s what you can do to help:

– Join the Women’s Resource Center. They provide assistance to women and children in the way of counseling, career placement, legal aide, and more.

– Demonstrate your support of victims by joining the Purple Ribbon Project.

– Become acquainted with the Silent Witness Initiative in your state. They promote hope, help, and healing for victims of domestic violence.

– Start a Clothesline Project or find one in your neighborhood. Give every woman the chance to be heard.

Also, you can visit these sites for more resources:

Domestic Violence Awareness Month
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Domestic Violence Hot Line

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