“Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) nearly 20 years ago, our Nation's response to domestic violence has greatly improved. What was too often seen as a private matter best hidden behind closed doors is now an established issue of national concern. We have changed our laws, transformed our culture, and improved support services for survivors. We have seen a significant drop in domestic violence homicides and improved training for police, prosecutors, and advocates. Yet we must do more to provide protection and justice for survivors and to prevent violence from occurring. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we stand with domestic abuse survivors, celebrate our Nation's progress in combatting these despicable crimes, and resolve to carry on until domestic violence is no more.”
-President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month- and although we are only a few days in, we have already been able to reach so many people to bring awareness to this issue. Know how? YOU guys! Yes, you! Your discussions with us in class, your posts on social media, and your pledges to live a life of healthy dating have affected the community in such a positive way. Great work! Here at the Teen Alert Program, we love connecting with you guys whether in the classroom or online, and we’re proud of the fact that you guys are bringing awareness to your schools, friends, and families. It may seem like your voices don’t have much power, but they do. Teens have the incredible opportunity to bring about social change and literally change the future and the world.
So why is Domestic Violence Awareness Month so important? Well, as President Obama said, we have made a great deal of progress in supporting victims, but there’s still so much more to do. Here are some current stats from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
- On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
- 4 in 10 women and 4 in 10 men have experienced at least one form of psychological abuse (emotional/verbal, mental) and coercive control by an intimate partner.
- On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
There are still millions of people who need help. October (and any month, really) is a great time for you and your friends to attend events or use social media to bring awareness to this issue. Some people honestly just don’t know that it’s so prevalent in our nation- and that’s okay! That’s why we educate and spread the word. How do we do that? Here are some small things you can do that will make a BIG impact!
- Attend an Event in Your Community
Check out some local events to join, like the Men’s March Against Violence (girls welcome, too!). Feeling extra inspired? Grab some friends, make some posters, and create your own small event! Send us an email if you need some help! (This is something you could start planning now for February, too- Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month!)
- Give a Friend a Resource
Remember what we talk about in your schools- it’s not our job to force a friend to end a relationship. Instead, show support by listening without a judgmental ear. Let them know you’re there for them, that the abuse is not okay, and that there are resources out there to help. Refer them to our website, advocate, or Instagram, or give them our workbook from class!
- Post on Social Media
Make a poster, take a selfie, or take a pic of your #TAP808 sunglasses if you have them! By posting on social media, all your followers will a) become aware of domestic violence, and b) know that you’re someone they can go to if they need help! Wear purple and use the hashtags #TAP808 and #DomesticViolenceAwarenessMonth to really bring it home!
- Lead by Example
If you’re in a healthy, equal relationship, then that’s great! Talk to your partner about what you can do together to bring awareness to this issue and be a model for others. If you see a friend is being abusive to his/her partner, let them know it isn’t cool- but that with support, they can change their behavior!
These are just a few examples of things you can do to get involved in Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Remember that every voice counts- and even if you’re not experiencing this yourself, you can help those around you that may need it. Together, we can end this horrible crime of domestic violence happening every day to our brothers and sisters. Any other ideas of how to get involved? Let us know in the comments so others can see!