From O.J. Simpson to Ray Rice, domestic violence in the United States is an issue that has been perpetuated for too long. It is often swept under the rug due to its complexity.
In honor of recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), it is worth taking the time to talk about this issue that still requires public awareness, education and involvement.
Domestic violence is a broad term for a complex issue. The term refers to any form of physical, emotional, psychological, economic or sexual abuse that exists in a household. These include family, non-family and romantic relationships. The underlying issue and its scope expand far beyond the definition of the term.
It is important to understand that domestic violence is a prevalent issue in many communities. Persons affected by domestic abuse can be of any age, gender, race, sexual orientation or socio-economic status. Forms of domestic violence can differ in individual relationships, but are often conceived as a vicious cycle that is hard to escape.
Domestic violence victims are often perceived as weak or incapable of leaving the situation, but the solution is almost never easy. As allies, we must recognize the complexity of relationships and show compassion for those affected. Family and romantic relationships are complex on their own, especially when loved ones intentionally disrespect and abuse each other.
Emotional or financial dependence can trap the victim in a toxic relationship with an even more dangerous outcome. 75 percent of domestic violence murders in the U.S. occur while victims attempt to leave the perpetrator. It is a scary situation, but certainly not hopeless. Support and resources are out there.
The Humboldt Domestic Violence Services is a non-profit organization that provides free and confidential support to victims. Their services include legal, medical and financial support. They also offer referrals to outside services, such as support groups.
The North Coast Rape Crisis Team is another non-profit organization that offers a variety of education and community-based programs on prevention and self-defense.
HSU’s Check It is an extension of the North Coast Rape Crisis that provides tailored services to students, staff and faculty on campus. The club holds workshops and events to raise awareness about dating violence and consent culture.
Many perpetrators were witnesses or victims of domestic violence as children, which illustrates the importance of proper prevention education in both children and adults.
Community Outreach coordinator at the North Coast Rape Crisis Team, Paula Arrowsmith-Jones, says DVAM serves to “bring [domestic violence] out of the shadows [and] raise awareness so the community can see it happens to everyone.”
The 31 days of observance focuses on instilling strength and supporting survivors through advocacy. Domestic abuse prevention is a community effort that involves education and support. It also calls for building healthy relationships with our family, friends and peers.
If you or someone you know needs help, free and confidential support is available to you.
- 24/7 LOCAL HOTLINE: (707) 445- 2881 – North Coast Crisis Team
- 24/7 LOCAL HOTLINE: (707) 443-6042 – Humboldt Domestic Violence Services