Domestic violence is a growing epidemic that affects individuals in every community throughout the world, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or income.
It is one of the most common and yet underreported crimes in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The United Nations General Assembly designated Nov. 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.
The month of October is dubbed domestic violence awareness month. Awareness is increasing for this issue, but often at times, attention to domestic violence is only highlighted in October or Nov. 25. There are certain myths that surround domestic violence that can aid to the determent of awareness for abuse.
The first myth is that domestic violence is not an ongoing issue.
So far this year, Birmingham, Alabama police detectives have investigated 4,415 domestic violence cases and this department has received 6,562 calls for service related to domestic violence, according to al.com. The NCADV states on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.
Even more disturbing, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience domestic violence and over 3 million children will witness this travesty in their own homes each year.
The second misconception often paired with domestic violence is that women or men have to fit a particular profile or stereotype to be a victim.
I have an intimate association with domestic violence, because my family experienced it for many years before we could escape our situation.
My family’s abuser was a well-known, educated individual with a steady job and reputation. My mother was an elementary teacher who portrayed the persona of a happy home life and family. However, under this false facade was the life of constant fear and terror.
We lived in a dangerous environment where it was often common to flee our home during the night seeking safety and shelter. After experiencing this darkness for many years, we were able to receive legal counseling, financial aid, family support and community encouragement to finally escape our abusive circumstances.
However, more often than not, this outcome is not always the case for many victims of abuse.
Community support was essentially the stepping stone in our path to escape. Having the support of others is necessary for victims of abuse to be successful in life after abuse. This notion leads to the third myth surrounding domestic violence: only individuals who have experienced domestic violence or know someone who has experienced it can help other victims of abuse.
I encourage individuals who have not intimately experienced domestic violence to become educated in the signs of abuse, volunteer with local domestic violence shelters and lend a listening ear to strangers on the street.
There are multiple ways in which individuals can bring awareness to domestic violence. The Shoals area is home to Safeplace, one of many domestic violence shelters serving victims of abuse throughout the state of Alabama. Individuals can become volunteers for Safeplace through fundraisers and supply drives.
Social media is a powerful and connecting tool where people can broadcast safety outlets and support shelters and domestic violence task forces.
Through the simple step of tweeting a domestic violence help hotline, maybe a victim can receive the aid he or she needs. Domestic violence is consistently occurring and it is up to us to take a stance and ignite a change.
By bringing awareness to the abuse, highlighting victims’ needs and educating the public, the war of domestic violence can be brought to an end.