October is best known for Breast Cancer Awareness and Halloween, but it is also the month designated to raising awareness about domestic violence. The first domestic violence awareness month was observed in 1987. That same year the national domestic violence hotline was started. There are several purposes of domestic violence awareness month:
- Mourning those that have died because of domestic violence.
- Celebrating those who have survived.
- Connecting those who work to end this violence.
- Educating both victims, abusers and the general public.
How Can I Help?
There are so many things anyone could do to help raise awareness about Domestic Violence.
- Educate yourself
- Share domestic violence facts with others
- Donate! Donate! Donate!
- Attend a local awareness event
- Wear purple
Educate Yourself & Others
I recommend that everyone first educate themselves about domestic violence. There are many misconceptions about domestic violence that need to be dispelled. You can read my article about domestic violence myths vs. facts. You could also visit this awesome website, which is full of great information. Your local library may have some great books on the subject that are very informative. My favorite author is Lundy Bancroft; he is not only a great author but also a workshop leader and consultant on domestic abuse & child maltreatment.
Once you have been educated, share your knowledge with others. It only takes a moment to share an article or website link with your friends on Facebook. We watch a great movie and recommend it to all of our friends. The same could be applied to whenever we learn something new about domestic violence. The more we talk about this issue and share information with others, the more awareness we will bring to domestic violence!
Finally, please follow me here on HubPages. I will be posting articles all month long on domestic violence that should be very educational.
When services aren't available to victims programs report that:
- 58% of victims will return to their abusers.
- 19% will become homeless.
- 11% of families will end up living in their cars.
Why Volunteer or Donate?
I could write an entire article on this topic alone, but I'll try to summarize why it is so very vital for us to help our local shelters for battered women.
Last year, NNEDV (National Network To End Domestic Violence) conducted a one-day unduplicated count of adults and children seeking domestic violence services in the United States. This annual census documents the number of individuals who sought services in a single 24-hour period. In Colorado alone, victims made more than 200 requests for services, including emergency shelter, transitional housing, and nonresidential services, that could not be provided because programs did not have the resources to provide these services.
The most frequently requested non-residential services that couldn’t be provided were housing advocacy, legal representation, and financial assistance.
What Should I Donate?
Check with your local shelter, but there are a variety of things you can donate.
Time: You could donate your free time by answering phones or playing with children while their mothers are in therapy sessions. If you have a special skill set, such as being a child therapist or lawyer, consider offering these services as well. Check with your local shelter to see how specifically you can volunteer your time.
Money: Monetary donations are always welcomed! You can include your local battered women's shelter in your will. You could also purchase gift certificates and donate those to your local shelter. Sometimes shelters will partner with local grocery stores so that every time a customer makes a purchase on a reloadable gift card a percentage of their purchases will go towards helping the shelter. Check with your local shelter to see if they have this type of program.
Household Items: Old cell phones, clothes, linens, cleaning supplies, and cookware are all items that most shelters desperately need. Transitioning into fall weather is a perfect time to clean out your closet and donate your old clothes to a shelter. Consider organizing a donation drive with your family, church, or co-workers. Ask local businesses if you could hang a shelter wish list in their establishments.
Purple is the designated color for domestic violence awareness. There are a variety of items available for purchase that you could wear, all for the sake of raising awareness. You can access buttons, t-shirts and key chains here. You could also organize a ribbon campaign to distribute purple ribbons to clergy, police chiefs, judges, librarians, emergency room personnel, and others in your community.
I know I must sound like a broken record at this point, but check with your local shelter to see if they have any events happening during the month of October. Sometimes there will be candlelit vigils held the first Monday of October to remember those affected by domestic violence. Silent auctions or chili cook-offs are fun ways to not only raise awareness but also help fund local shelters. If you can attend these events invite your family & friends to join you as well!
The main point here is to do something. If we remain silent and complacent about domestic violence, it will only continue. For a list of more ways to help visit this website. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship you can get help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Here is a website with a list of local shelters organized by state. If you have a suggestion on how to participate in Domestic Violence Awareness Month, leave it in the comments below!