October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The special color for domestic violence is a sobering purple.
One in four women will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes.
You probably have no idea which of your female friends will be a victim, which goes to the root of the problem.
Domestic violence is overwhelmingly viewed as a “private” issue which occurs mostly behind closed doors. The idea of a man striking a woman (or a woman striking a man, for that matter) is an uncomfortable notion, and a situation into which very few people are willing to insert themselves.
But consider that physical abuse is just a part of the picture. Domestic violence includes emotional, verbal and sexual abuse as well. In fact, a physical abuser, in almost all cases, builds control and creates fear through verbal and emotional tools for months or years before ever striking his or her victim.
So if you witness any friends or acquaintances that routinely exert control over their partner, girlfriend or wife, through verbal or emotional tools, let that be a red flag for you to keep your eyes open and perhaps reach out to her more often.
Fair Haven Center for Women is known as “a safe port in the storm.” As a faith-focused charity, we provide counseling services, support groups, victim advocacy, educational workshops, public speaking and goods and services for women in abusive relationships. Though we hope to build awareness in October, the sad truth is that this problem needs 365 days of sunlight throughout the year.
Awareness during this time of the year is best, though, because the colder months usher in the holidays, truly the most difficult time of the year for abuse victims. Not only are stress levels higher than normal, but also arguments about money and family can be frequent, and the feelings of helplessness and guilt are more common in victims. Particularly in a difficult economy, abusers can feel extra pressure from the perceived loss of control in their lives.
While we hope increased awareness to domestic violence will boost people’s involvement and assistance, we realize the best and most immediate help is through a minor donation of your time and money. We hope you can help. In either case, we hope you find us on Facebook and help us spread the word.
Domestic violence is a horribly difficult issue to confront, overcome, and curb. If you can help victims who are often frightened to speak out, your charity becomes doubly helpful.
Kelly Vates is executive director of The Fair Haven Center for Women in Highland. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.