October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month: ‘United to End Abuse’

  • Published
  • By Steven B. Mayfield
  • JBSA-Lackland Violence Prevention Integrator

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month has been recognized every October for the last 31 years as a time when people and communities across the United States honor those who have lost their lives to domestic violence.

The primary purpose of the campaign each year is to remind and motivate people to take the “small actions” necessary to end domestic violence. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is not just about learning about this scourge … it’s about doing something to prevent it. The theme for this year’s observance is “United to End Abuse.”

During this month, extensive efforts are undertaken to ensure public awareness is increased relating to interpersonal violence as a whole, but particularly focusing on domestic violence.

There are often misconceptions and a lack of clarity associated with the categories of domestic violence and it can be hard to tell if someone is in an abusive relationship when “looking in from the outside.” Sometimes the abused person in the relationship doesn’t even realize their partner's behavior is abusive.

The bottom line is that every situation is different. Domestic violence is typically characterized by emotional, financial, and/or physical abuse.

When people think about domestic violence, the first thing that normally comes to mind is the “physical aspect” of domestic abuse, but intimate partner violence/abuse may also include emotional and financial factors – not just physical violence.

Typically, there are associated warning signs indicating that a relationship may be abusive and/or violent. These warning signs include:

1) Isolation: The abuser ensures the person they are abusing is isolated from friends and family. The abused person becomes almost solely dependent on the abuser, thus giving the abuser a heightened level of power and control of the abused

2) Overly critical behavior: The abuser engages in behavior that is constantly critical of the abused, such as “back-handed comments,” put-downs, and constant criticism, which cause the abused person to become very self-conscious and totally reliant on the abuser.

3) Invasion of privacy: Abusers may read the emails/text messages of the abused, or eavesdrop on their telephone calls.

As with other issues we face, “self-awareness” is a key aspect of prevention. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you clarify if you might be in an abusive relationship, taken from a publication written by author Lundy Bancroft:

1) Has your partner ever trapped you in a room and not let you out?
2) Has your partner ever raised a fist as if they were going to hit you?
3) Have they ever thrown an object that hit you or nearly did?
4) Have they ever held you down or grabbed you to restrain you?
5) Has your partner ever shoved, poked, or grabbed you?
6) Has your partner ever threatened to hurt you?

Bancroft indicates that if the answer to any of these questions is yes, “then you can stop wondering whether they will ever be violent; they already have been."

Preventing domestic violence is very important … it potentially saves lives. Victims may experience the effects of domestic violence for an extended period of time and may also experience other related Mental Health issues such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression.

During the current operational posture due to COVID-19, domestic violence instances may increase due to related situations and circumstances. 

A good source for information is provided by the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence publication titled “31 Facts for Domestic Violence Awareness Month” at https://www.acesdv.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/31-facts-2020-Final.pdf. It contains pertinent information and several internet sites with vital information pertaining to domestic violence prevention.