How Institutions Can Support Domestic Violence Awareness Month

How Institutions Can Support Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In October, we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) was launched nationwide in October 1987 as a way to connect and unite individuals and organizations working on domestic violence issues while raising awareness for those issues. Over the past 30+ years, progress has been made to support domestic violence victims and survivors, to hold abusers accountable, and to create and update legislation to further those goals. The activities planned during this month are to celebrate those who have survived, mourn those who have died, and spread awareness and resources for those who may be involved in domestic violence. 

To better understand the scope of domestic violence in the United States, here are a few statistics by NCADV:

0

gun related domestic violence fatalities this year.

0

MILLION people are physically abused by an intimate partner a year.

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calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines a day.

0%

of women in the United States have been raped.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence, also referred to as intimate partner violence, is a pattern of abusive behavior used by a current or former partner/spouse/household member to maintain control over the other. It can be physical, psychological, or sexual; and can include threats of physical or sexual violence.

Domestic violence is prevalent in all communities, regardless of city, state, age, gender, socio-economic status, race, religion, etc. It can occur between partners of any gender and does not require sexual intimacy.

It’s important to note that the definition of domestic violence can vary by state, college/university, or organization.

How to Better Identify Signs of Domestic Violence

In many cases, signs of domestic violence are invisible like financial abuse, emotional abuse, and verbal abuse.These types of abuse aren’t easily seen with the naked eye. Most of the victims of these types of abuse do not have scars, bruises, cuts, or any other injury to show for their abuse, so the abuse is not as visible to bystanders. So, how can someone better identify if someone is being domestically abused?

Domestic abusers commonly have these traits, noted by NCADV:

  • An abuser often denies the existence or minimizes the seriousness of the violence and its effect on the victim and other family members.
  • An abuser objectifies the victim and often sees them as their property or sexual objects.
  • An abuser has low self-esteem and feels powerless and ineffective in the world. He or she may appear successful, but internally, they feel inadequate.
  • An abuser externalizes the causes of their behavior. They blame their violence on circumstances such as stress, their partner's behavior, a "bad day," on alcohol, drugs, or other factors.
  • An abuser may be pleasant and charming between periods of violence and is often seen as a "nice person" to others outside the relationship.

NCDAV also makes mention of the warning signs of a domestic abuser and what to look out for:

  • Extreme Jealousy
  • Possessiveness
  • Unpredictability
  • Bad Temper
  • Cruelty to Animals
  • Verbal Abuse
  • Extremely Controlling Behavior


View the full list of warning signs, here.

Other signs of abuse to be aware of:

  • Your partner bullies, threatens, or controls you.
  • Your partner controls your money.
  • Your partner cuts you off from family and friends.
  • Your partner physically abuses you.
  • Your partner sexually abuses you.
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How to Support Victims of Domestic Violence

Watching a loved one go through domestic violence is heart wrenching for most. There could be many reasons why someone stays with their abuser: children, finances, fear, manipulation, intimidation, religious or cultural beliefs, shelter, and unsupportive friends or family. It is extremely important for family members and friends to be supportive and be there for the victim. 

There are many ways to support victims of domestic violence, below are a few from NCDAV:

  • Do not judge the victim.
  • Do not tell the victim that they need to leave.
  • Do not remind the victim that their abuser is a jerk.
  • Become the victim’s confidant.
  • Assure the victim that you will keep everything confidential.
  • Ask the victim what the situation is like.

For more ways to support victims, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Safety Plan Friends and Family page.

How Institutions Can Participate in Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Organizations like NCDAV organize many activities during this month for victims, advocates, and allies to participate in. Below are a few suggestions to incorporate at colleges and universities:

  1. Share the hashtags #DVAM2021 and #WeAreResilient on your institution’s social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. 
  2. Update your institution's social media profile photos with frames supporting domestic violence awareness month.
  3. Share DVAM graphics to your institution’s social media accounts that spread awareness with facts, definitions, help lines, statistics, and other important information and tools.
  4. Encourage student, faculty, and staff participation in DVAM webinar series, either hosted by your institution or by organizations like NCADV which include webinars on: intro to domestic violence, understand allyship & supporting survivors, bystander intervention, risk assessment & safety planning.
  5. Encourage your institution’s campus community to wear purple on National Wear Purple Day, October 21, to show support of DVAM.
  6. Post resources on your institution’s social media, website, dormitories, lecture halls, and student centers to ensure all students, faculty, and staff have access to materials. 
  7. Evaluate your institution’s education and training materials on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault prevention, and other similar topics, and make sure there is a plan in place to educate all campus members on these topics. 
  8. Host a writing event where students, faculty, and staff can write encouraging messages to victims on a large canvas and hang it in a student center or other building that campus members frequent. 
  9. Host workshops and speakers to come talk to students, faculty, and staff about domestic violence and help to answer any questions the listeners may have.

Domestic violence is prevalent in all communities, including campus communities, so it is important for your students, faculty, and staff to feel supported and have the resources and information they need in order to get the help they need. Make sure to look out for the common traits of domestic abusers listed earlier and if you know someone going through domestic violence, be sure to support them and guide them in a safe direction away from their abuser.

For more on Domestic Violence Awareness, below are other resources from Vector Solutions: 

How Vector Solutions Can Help

Vector Solutions offers 20 different sexual violence prevention courses for students and even more courses for faculty and staff even with state specific versions. We can you empower students, faculty, and staff to be proactive bystanders against sexual violence through our engaging, research-based courses. Our popular Sexual Violence Prevention Education Program has been enhanced to better reflect today's modern campus, and is available now!

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