October is Halloween season, when many of us are gearing up for trips to haunted houses, costume parties, and taking the kids trick or treating. Did you know October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
It seems, despite the popularity of horror films, the real-life horror of domestic violence is one that many people can’t bear to think about. So, we close our eyes. We look away. We pretend it isn’t happening.
Unfortunately, doing this means we don’t stand up to end the use of force in relationships, which results in the continuation of the nightmares happening on Elm Street, Main Street and many other streets all over America.
According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, one in four women and one in nine men will be victims of relationship violence. Homicides as a result of domestic violence is a major cause of death among women, with more than three women being murdered every day by an intimate partner. Every year 1.5 million children are witness to violence in their homes, which data trends show trajectories of higher incarceration rates, as well as increased likelihood of domestic violence and victimization for these children far into their adulthoods.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is the call coming from inside the house … reminding us to do what many of us have committed our lives to doing, as seen by our military service and our professional choices. We are committed to helping others and being of service. To do these two things, we must incorporate knowing: Knowing the signs when someone (including ourselves) needs help, knowing how to help and knowing where to get help. To know these things means keeping our eyes open even during the scary moments when we notice a bruise on our friend’s arm or her or him talking about the controlling behaviors that his or her spouse is exhibiting. Helping means making those tough calls even when we just want to run away.
So as you put on your costume this year, think about the real bruises and horrors that happen in these abusive relationships. When you walk through those haunted houses, remember that there are men and women (our neighbors, friends, siblings, wingmen) who are living with real fear in their homes every day. It’s important to beware … or more importantly be aware. Know the signs.
Some signs of abuse in a relationship
• Physical marks that the injured person is hesitant to talk about or injuries that seem to be happening often
• Isolating themselves from friends and family
• Exhibiting symptoms of depression and anxiety
• The partner constantly calls, interrogates or asking demanding questions
• Have to ask permission to access resources, passwords or make plans
• Personal hygiene has decreased
• The partner suddenly shows up uninvited
Where to get help
• Mental Health Family Advocacy Program and Mental Health Clinic: 623-856-7579
• Chaplain: 623-856-6211; (emergency/after hours 623-856-5800)
• Family Advocacy Centers (Glendale): 623-930-3720
• Marriage and Family Life Counseling: 623-238-0565
• National Domestic Abuse Hotline 800-799-7233 (SAFE)
• Local police department or hospital