October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Originally known as “the day of unity” that quickly evolved into a week, and then went on to become National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October is the month where various organizations join together to educate the masses concerning the quiet epidemic that happenes behind closed doors, domestic violence. Domestic violence is when a person uses physical violence, sexual violence, financial abuse, psychological or emotional abuse to gain and maintain power and control over another person. It truly can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age, race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, nationality, or economic status. Many abusers can be charming and sweet in the beginning of a relationship, then slowly become abusive over time, behaviors growing in intensity, undetected, as the relationship progresses. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Bureau of Justice, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have gathered data that show the current staggering statistics are that a woman in the United States is beaten or assaulted every 9 to 13 seconds, with one-third of all reported female homicides killed by an intimate partner.

How do you know if someone you care about is suffering from abuse? An abusive situation may not be obvious. It’s not always broken bones or even bruises. Here are some things to look for:

You are never able to spend time with them alone

Their partner constantly checks in on where they are and/or who they are with

Their partner calls them names or puts them down

They make apologies for their partner’s behavior

They frequently cancel plans

They often worry about their partner being upset

They stop doing things they enjoy

Their appearance changes

They begin to use alcohol or drugs to cope with the abuse

Their partner exhibits extreme jealousy

They cannot make decisions on their own

They have become withdrawn, quiet, and/or anxious

They are reluctant to leave their children or pets alone with their partner

They have unexplained injuries (or the explanations they give don’t make sense)

One of the primary objectives of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is to helping victims of domestic violence seek help and find a safe way out, even when they feel hopeless, ashamed, or are unsure of how to reach out. By encouraging victims or loved ones of victims, to reach out for help and make their cases known, you can save lives. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence, you are encouraged to contact law enforcement, or if you wish to remain anonymous or are unsure of safe ways to seek help locally please call ACT’s 24-hour helpline: 239-939-3112. Hendry and Glades Counties can call the domestic violence helpline toll-free: 1-800-500-1119 or email: act@actabuse.com. There is also the National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233. Remember, no one deserves to be victimized by Domestic Violence and there is a safe way out.

Danika can be reached at dhopper@newszap.com

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