Domestic violence, often called intimate partner violence, is a pervasive public health issue in the United States – and one that often goes unreported. Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is recognized each October, is a valuable time to raise awareness, share resources, and support survivors.
Here, we provide an overview of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, discuss pertinent concerns and considerations, and share resources for community education and support. We also offer a free Domestic Violence Awareness Infographic.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an annual effort by communities, advocacy organizations, supporters, and political leaders to recognize domestic violence, take action to prevent it, and support survivors. It was started by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and has been recognized since 1981.
Many workplaces and educational institutions use this month as an opportunity to educate their communities about domestic abuse risk factors and warning signs and to offer resources and support to survivors and their loved ones.
Awareness is a crucial component of preventing and addressing domestic violence. For example, it’s helpful to understand how to identify domestic violence, who it affects, and its widespread costs and impacts.
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.” Common types of domestic violence are intimate partner abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse. Stalking, sexual violence, emotional abuse, economic threats, and psychological aggression are all included under the umbrella of domestic abuse.
Unfortunately, domestic violence often goes unreported. This is particularly problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic, as some employees have been working from home with an abuser. In fact, COVID-19 has led to a global spike in domestic violence reports. Additionally, even if they aren’t experiencing abuse at home, some employees may be struggling with the repercussions of prior abuse.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation and is perpetuated by family members and current or previous intimate partners. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one in four women and one in ten men have experienced violence or stalking by an intimate partner. Domestic violence hotlines receive over 19,000 calls per day. At-risk demographics include women, racial and ethnic minorities, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Domestic violence has numerous emotional, physical, and financial costs. The national cost of domestic violence, including intimate partner violence, child abuse, and elder abuse, is over 12 billion dollars per year. This violence leads to over 1,500 deaths each year in the United States.
Domestic abuse significantly impacts the mental health of survivors and consequently impacts their friends, families, co-workers, and community members. It can also lead to a “cycle of abuse” that affects survivors’ adult relationships.
These effects are also seen in the workplace. According to a survey, 96% of employed victims experience problems at work as a result of domestic violence. This is often due to mental health concerns, which affect employee productivity and organizational success.
Education, awareness, and advocacy are key components of taking action to prevent domestic violence and support survivors. Here are some key resources:
It’s important to give community members easy access to local and national resources such as these, as well as to provide organization-specific guidance (ex: counseling options and reporting programs). Many organizations find it helpful to offer these tools in a mobile format so that they can be accessed easily and anonymously.
This October, honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month by taking a stand against domestic violence and supporting survivors in your community.
Awareness is an important component of domestic violence advocacy. To help, we have created a free Domestic Violence Awareness Infographic that can be shared with your community.