The statistics are sobering: 10 million people suffer from physical abuse by a partner per year in the U.S., according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). That equates to nearly 20 people per minute.
For women, the figures are even worse. One in three have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, and one in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner. The issue hits young women the hardest, with females between the ages of 18 and 24 as the most abused demographic. And this isn't a new problem; domestic abuse has plagued the U.S. for years. It's only in recent years that government and private agencies have put effort into bringing the problem into the open.
That's why, in 1987, the NCADV initiated an awareness campaign — National Domestic Violence Awareness Month — to bring light to the devastating issue, and to hopefully move solutions forward. Unfortunately, the need still persists today for this campaign.
October is designated National Domestic Violence Awareness Month by the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) within the U.S. Department of Justice.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month was first held in 1987, the same year as the debut of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline. Two years later, Congress passed Public Law 101-112, officially designating October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The idea evolved from October 1981's "Day of Unity," an event for connecting those who work to end domestic abuse, by the NCADV. The day evolved into a week of activities and awareness campaigns held at the local, state and national levels.
Three key themes were present in these weeks, according to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence:
Now, the first Monday of October is recognized as the Day of Unity.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, domestic violence:
includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.
As the numbers show, we have a long way to go to end domestic abuse. Awareness drives action, and a monthlong recognition of the issue at hand helps spur change.
Awareness and support are two ways everyone can get involved with an issue that affects so many people across the U.S. Whether your organization takes part in a larger call to action, or if you decide to take action at an individual level, whether through donations of time or money or something else, it's essential to consider what you can do to help the cause.
With one in three women and one in four men suffering severe abuse from a partner, it's highly likely that someone in your life has suffered. Educate yourself and others on what resources are in your area, and what the signs of abuse look like and how you can help.
The Domestic Violence Awareness Project offers:
Find the laws and regulations concerning violence against women on the U.S. Department of Justice site.
Break the Cycle offers support and training for young people, ages 12-24.
The following list was compiled by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Dating Abuse Helpline
National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp
National Sexual Assault Hotline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Human Trafficking Resource Center/Polaris Project
Call: 1-888-373-7888 | Text: HELP to BeFree (233733)
National Coalition for the Homeless
Futures Without Violence: The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health
1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011
Childhelp USA/National Child Abuse Hotline
Children’s Defense Fund
Child Welfare League of America
National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Child Protection and Custody/Resource Center on Domestic Violence
Break the Cycle
Domestic Violence Initiative
(303) 839-5510/ (877) 839-5510
Women of Color Network
Casa de Esperanza
Linea de crisis 24-horas/24-hour crisis line
National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities
The National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
Indigenous Women’s Network
Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence
Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV)
Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute
The Audre Lorde Project
LAMBDA GLBT Community Services
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse
National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
National Center for Elder Abuse