October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and an opportune and necessary time to rededicate ourselves to the mission of ending domestic violence once and for all.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, "Communities and advocacy organizations across the country connect with the public and one another throughout the month to raise awareness about the signs of abuse and ways to stop it, and to uplift survivor stories and provide additional resources to leaders and policymakers."
Even if you’re lucky enough not to have experienced such harm yourself, you almost certainly know or love someone who has. This violence isn’t limited to any socioeconomic category or type of person. It can be glimpsed throughout society, in a multitude of ways.
Unfortunately, the very basics of what domestic abuse is and how it works can make abuse difficult to eradicate.
Those who endure it don’t want to draw attention to themselves — indeed, such attention could even be dangerous. The National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website, for instance, includes an "X" that can be clicked to immediately close the page. And those who would hurt the ones they love are clearly not in a calm and welcoming state of mind. Abusers will go to great lengths to obscure what they do.
Abuse itself is more complicated than simple physical violence. As Break the Cycle, an organization focused on younger people, puts it: "It’s not just punches and black eyes — it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It’s stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, constant use of the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it."
No one is alone in confronting domestic violence. The hotline can be contacted through its website at thehotline.org or by calling (800) 799-SAFE. In Kansas, the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence offers help at its website or at (888) END-ABUSE.
These are challenging times for many of our friends and neighbors. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that families and other groups of people are spending extended periods of time together under one roof. That can increase the opportunities for abusers to take advantage of others. Additionally, economic instability can worsen the quality of life for everyone.
But there is no reason, no excuse, to harm those who you claim to love. If you are suffering from domestic violence, or if you know someone who is, first of all stay safe. And then reach out to all of those willing to help you change your life.