Victims of domestic violence suffer every day of the year. They are assaulted, threatened, insulted, humiliated, isolated, and intimidated by their abusers, whose calculated actions reduce their victims’ lives to rubble. Domestic violence destroys lives and families and it’s time to give victims a voice.
Abusers employ emotional, social, sexual, and economic abuse to control every aspect of their victims’ lives. The scars that remain from verbal and mental abuse often linger long after broken bones and bruises have healed. Domestic violence can vary in severity and frequency and can include single incidents as well as chronic and severe incidents over several years.
Domestic violence can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, race, religion, or sexual preference. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking.
Domestic violence is a serious public health issue. Approximately 16% of all homicide victims are killed by their intimate partner, and almost half of homicide deaths in women are cause by current or former partners. Domestic violence is associated with increases in depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and substance use. Domestic violence is also related to negative physical health outcomes, such as cardiovascular, reproductive, and gastrointestinal disease. In addition, being a victim of domestic violence increases your risk for engaging in other risky behaviors, such as smoking, binge drinking, and HIV-risk behaviors.
Children living in homes where domestic violence is present are at particular risk. Abusers often hurt children, too. Those who are not physically abused but witness domestic abuse in their homes often experience emotional issues that last long into their lives.
It is important that everyone move out their comfort zones to support victims of domestic violence and teen dating violence and stand up to abusers. October — Domestic Violence Awareness Month — is the perfect time to start. Domestic Violence Awareness Month has been observed since 1981 as a way to rally around victims and change the culture of violence that has thrived in the shadows for generations.
Understanding the dynamics of domestic violence is the first step toward helping victims of domestic violence become survivors of domestic violence. Many people believe that domestic violence encompasses only physical violence, such as punching, slapping, pushing, pinching, biting, and choking. While physical assault is a key component of domestic violence, abusers often use other tactics to control, intimidate, and isolate their victims.
Domestic violence can begin with subtle behaviors that are easy to overlook, such as name-calling, possessiveness, and threats. Abusers may apologize for their behaviors and try to convince the victim that these behaviors are done out of love and affection. Over time this cycle of tension building, abuse, and apology can intensify and escalate to physical violence. Some examples of early abusive behaviors include: accusing the victim of cheating, telling someone they can never do anything right, controlling money, preventing the victim from making their own decisions, and isolating the victim from family and friends.
There are many planned activities in October to educate the public about domestic violence.
• A press conference to announce the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month on Tuesday, October 1, at 10 a.m. at the Blasco Library
• A candlelight vigil to honor victims of domestic violence will be held Thursday, Oct. 3, at 6 p.m., at the gazebo at Corry City Park. The event will feature a reflection by a survivor of domestic violence.
• A PurpleOne domestic violence awareness training will be held Monday, Oct. 7, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the H.O. Hirt Auditorium of the Erie County Public Library, 160 E. Front St., Erie.
Safe Journey launched the PurpleOne in February to educate the public about domestic violence and create a network of safe places where victims can find support and receive information about free and confidential services offered by the agency.
PurpleOne empowers members of the community as potential bystanders – to assist you in becoming aware of domestic violence in our community, learning skills to respond to a domestic violence situation, and understanding when and how to refer a victim of domestic violence. The free training teaches attendees how to recognize and respond to domestic violence and how to refer victims to services. Participants also are taught how to safely become involved as active bystanders if they are confronted by an unexpected scene of domestic violence. This initiative also provides empowerment to victims of domestic violence by providing trained individuals in the community who can recognize, respond to and refer them to resources. This also provides multiple Safe Places within the community that have trained and certified individuals who can assist them. Finally, this initiative seeks to unite the community around the eradication of domestic violence in our communities.
Organizations and businesses that have at least one PurpleOne-trained individual are eligible to be certified safe spaces that offer support and information for victims. The locations are marked by the PurpleOne’s signature purple dot. To register for the training, call Safe Journey at 438-2675 or visit purpleone.org.
People are encouraged to wear purple, the designated color for domestic violence awareness, to support victims. Displaying a purple ribbon on your vehicle’s antenna, wearing a purple ribbon, or wearing a purple wristband shows that you are publicly taking a stand for victims. Showing your colors is an effective way to start a conversation about domestic violence, because victims are everywhere.
Victims of domestic violence can be anyone. They sit beside you in church, at meetings, at the doctor’s office, at school plays, at work, at games, matches, events. They may be your doctor, your boss, your attorney, your nurse, your professor, your neighbor, your sister, your waitress.
While Domestic Violence Awareness Month presents a timely opportunity for the community to support victims, Palisin hopes people understand that domestic violence occurs year-round. Domestic Violence Awareness Month can serve as a starting point for people to not only help victims, but also to hold victims accountable.
Safe Journey has provided free and confidential services for victims of domestic violence in rural Erie County since 1978. Services include shelter (if needed), group and individual counseling, a 24/7 emergency hotline, elementary and secondary school prevention programs, help in obtaining Protection From Abuse orders, court accompaniment, and parenting classes.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Center for Disease Control - Intimate Partner Violence
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence