We have been through the required training, yet the issue of domestic violence is personal. Many of us have stories. I was not aware, at the time, when a very close family member of mine watched her dog brutally killed in front of her by her partner, that hurting pets is now an acknowledged warning sign of escalating violence in a relationship.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month has a history. As an effort to unite domestic violence advocates across the nation, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence held the first Day of Unity in October 1981. Eventually, the Day of Unity became a week-long event that connected advocates committed to the eradication of domestic violence, commemorated the deaths of women and children tragically killed because of domestic violence, and embraced those who survived domestic violence.
In October 1987, the NCADV, along with domestic violence advocates nationwide, held the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The goal was to coordinate efforts nationwide to educate and promote understanding about domestic violence and how to help victims of domestic violence. Two years after the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was held, the U.S. Congress enacted the first National Domestic Violence Awareness Month commemorative legislation. Since Domestic Violence Awareness Month’s enactment, state legislatures across the nation have done the same as well.
Increasing the public’s understanding about domestic violence in our society can help communities support domestic violence survivors and their families, as well as the individuals and agencies that provide intervention and prevention services throughout the year. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is also a time to encourage the public to take active steps to address domestic violence. The hope is that a month of intensified awareness efforts combined with the broad spectrum of anti-domestic violence work throughout the year will bring us closer to ending domestic violence.
As the month of October progresses, look for displays, events and information to increase the kind of awareness that leads to action.