Domestic Violence Awareness Shouldn't Stop or Start in October

Mon, 2014-10-13 09:20 -- khawkins

In Davenport, IowaJessica is now financially independent, and she and her three children are safe. Their family has come a long way since she escaped a long-term abusive relationship and found support and counseling from United Way.

Some 12 million people in America are victims of domestic violence every year. One in 4 women  experiences domestic violence in their lifetime. Some3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year. And experts say there is a 30-60% chance that kids who witness domestic violence will be abused, too.

But abuse is often unreported, frequently due to a victim’s fear or not knowing where to turn, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

  • It can happen to anyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or religion.
  • It’s not just physical abuse. Domestic violence includes emotional, verbal, sexual, and/or financial abuse.
  • There are many reasons victims stay in abusive relationships. What they need are resources and support to help them find their own paths to safety.

While the impact of domestic violence is staggering, talking about it – and supporting prevention efforts in our communities – helps empower victims.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but if we want to build stronger communities, all of us have to spread the word about domestic violence year-round. In a recent survey, more than 90% of responding United Ways report they are tackling domestic violence in their communities. That can mean leading an initiative, joining a larger coalition, funding prevention or providing technical expertise. Here are just some of the stories across communities from our Story Map:

  • In Odessa, Texas, United Way and partner agencies like Angel House have provided more than 13,000 victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse with counseling. When Anna talks about the Crisis Center Angel House program supported by United Way she says, “they literally saved my life.”
  • Working with Good Neighbor Shelter in Cartersville, Georgia, United Way has supported more than 100 people with their education and careers. “We work to make sure people have access to a temporary safe refuge and help securing jobs and reclaiming their independence,” says one United Way leader involved.

In a few weeks, Domestic Violence Awareness Month will fade from the spotlight and another issue will take center stage. The NFL headlines have kept the spotlight on domestic violence, as well. But what if we could help make sure this problem was in the past? That’s a future worth fighting for.Contact your local United Way to find out how you can help stem the tide of domestic violence in your community.