Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (Photo credit: Morning Calm News)

Yesterday, I logged onto my computer and immediately went to some of my favorite sites with high hopes and expectations of reading some informative articles on domestic violence awareness. To my dismay, there were none. I was proud to see the pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness month but it still seems as if domestic violence is the taboo topic in the African American Community.

Domestic violence does not discriminate against race, age, gender, social status or faith. It doesn’t just affect the individual parties involved but also the children, extended families and communities. October has been recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is important that the community at large is aware of this epidemic and also that those who may be suffering in silence know where to seek help and support. The first step to prevention is awareness.

According to reports, African American women experience domestic violence at a rate of 35% higher than white women. As a race, do we understand what domestic violence is? Domestic violence manifest itself in a relationship in various ways. Whether it is economic, verbal, emotional, sexual or physical, domestic violence leaves wounds and can have lasting, even deadly, effects if not dealt with. Domestic violence as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women is “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological or threats of actions that influence another person”.

Statistics show that domestic violence is more common than we think effecting 1 in 3 women. The level of incidence does not measure up to the amount of attention or discussion it is given. Continuous discussions and education about domestic violence is vital to increasing awareness and prevention. If we do not discuss domestic violence with our children as it pertains to relationships, it will show up in the classrooms affecting their lives in the form of bullying. The effects of domestic violence do not lie.

We teach our children, whether it be positive or negative, through the relationships and friendships we engage in. We also teach them what are considered acceptable forms of communication. I can only hope that the examples are appropriate and healthy. “I will never let a man hit me!” Well, truth be told, some of you have been hit by his words and punched by his lies. Domestic violence is more than physical and will show up in how he/she communicates. Do we really understand what emotional abuse is? Today’s Hip Hop generation minimizes it by calling it “game”. If he/she lies, manipulates, ridicules, blames, or shames (these are just a few examples) to gain control of a situation, make you feel insecure to keep you around, isolate you from friends, etc, it is not “game” it’s abuse. There is no room for emotional “games” in a healthy relationship.

Society says that calling a woman a “Bad B@&#! or calling a man a N!@@$ are terms of endearment. When someone uses degrading words to identify you, the definition doesn’t change whether one is laughing or in a heated argument. Many people deal with verbal abuse on a regular basis and don’t even realize it. Overtime you begin to respond according to the names you have been called. Words have the power to build up and tear down, heal or inflict pain, use them wisely.

Some history about Domestic Violence:

-In 1974, the first shelter for battered women was established.

-In 1976, La Casa de Las Madres in San Francisco, California opened, becoming the first battered women’s shelter established by women of color.

-In 1981, the first annual domestic violence awareness week is celebrated.

-In 1990, United State Senator Biden introduces the first Violence Against Women Act.

-In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act is signed into law.

-In 2008, the National Domestic Violence hotline received its two millionth call.

If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of domestic violence, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE or (800) 787-3224 (TTY)