National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2023: Recognizing Signs and Taking Action

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Did you know that October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month? Let’s learn more about how to spot the signs and make a difference in our communities

What is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, established in October 1989, serves as a platform to raise awareness about domestic abuse and empower communities to report and address this critical issue.

Approximately 21% of all violent crimes in the United States are categorized as domestic violence, highlighting the urgency of this awareness campaign.

Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is a destructive pattern of behaviors employed by one partner to control and exert power over another within an intimate relationship. Recognizing signs of an abusive relationship is essential for both victims and those wishing to support them. Warning signs include:

  1. Extreme Criticism: Frequent harsh criticism that damages self-esteem.
  2. Jealousy: Unhealthy jealousy, particularly directed towards friends or time spent apart.
  3. Controlling Behavior: Exerting control over your time, social interactions, and important life decisions.
  4. Isolation: Isolating you from friends and family.
  5. Verbal Abuse: Insults and belittlement, either privately or in public.
  6. Substance Pressuring: Forcing or pressuring the victim to use drugs or alcohol.
  7. Sexual Coercion: Forcing the victim into sexual acts or activities they are uncomfortable with.
  8. Threats and Intimidation: Using words, force, or even displaying weapons to intimidate.
  9. Property Damage: Destroying the victim’s property as a means of control.

Recognizing Someone Else in an Abusive Relationship

Identifying signs of abuse in someone else’s life can be challenging, as abusers can often present a charming facade to the outside world. However, there are indicators to watch for:

  1. Social Withdrawal: The person withdraws from regular activities, including spending time with friends and family.
  2. Isolation Claims: They may mention that their partner limits their contact with others, monitors their phone or texts, or isolates them from loved ones.
  3. Sexual Coercion: They might share instances of sexual assault or their partner attempting to limit contraception or refusing safe sex practices.
  4. Physical Signs: Look for visible signs of physical abuse, such as unexplained injuries, bruises, or attempts to conceal them.

How to Help Someone Escape an Abusive Situation

Supporting someone in an abusive situation is crucial. Here are steps to help them:

  1. Offer Non-Judgmental Support: Be there for them without judgment or pressure.
  2. Safety Planning: Assist them in creating a safety plan, which includes strategies for leaving safely.
  3. Connect with Resources: Encourage them to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which offers confidential assistance 24/7 in both English and Spanish. They can also use the hotline’s local resource search for financial, health, housing, counseling, and legal support.
  4. Know Your State’s Resources: Research domestic violence resources available in your state.
  5. Community and Specialized Organizations: Explore organizations like Restoring Ancestral Winds, which serves specific demographics like Indigenous communities.

Remember, help and hope are available not only for victims but also for those who want to support them and address abusive behavior within their own lives. National Domestic Violence Awareness Month reminds us of the importance of standing together to combat domestic abuse and promote healthy, safe relationships.


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