October is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, during which victims and survivors alike are specifically provided with care and support. This Month “is held each October as a way to unite advocates across the nation in their efforts to end domestic violence,” according to The Hotline.
The first National Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed in October 1981 as a “Day of Unity,” according to The Hotline. The Hotline states that National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is supposed to be a means for people to come together in order to work toward the end of domestic violence. They define “domestic violence” as: “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.”
Domestic violence typically takes place within an intimate relationship, affecting not only the significant other of the abuser but also, in some cases, children involved in the situation. Domestic violence also affects all demographics, no matter race, sex, socioeconomic status, etc. Though, The Hotline writes that it is most common for women ages 18-24 to be abused by an intimate partner. There are multiple types of domestic abuse, including physical, emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, and sexual coercion. No one form of abuse is worse than the other, as each affect the victim in varying ways. The Hotline writes that oftentimes more than one form of abuse is prevalent at a time within a domestic violence situation, as the abuser uses this as a way to gain power over the victim. They write: “Relationship abuse is a pattern of behaviors used to gain or maintain power and control over a partner, which can manifest in a number of ways …”
While Break the Cycle reports that from 1993 to 2008 domestic violence has greatly decreased, dropping nearly two-thirds, it is still a prevalent issue nationally and locally. They state that “nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.” Within Missouri, 36.1 percent of women and 40.4 percent of men experience intimate partner domestic abuse, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). Additionally, they report that one in seven women in Missouri are sexually assaulted, and in 2012 40,645 cases of domestic violence were reported in Missouri.
The statistics go on, but this month is a time for individuals to stand up and work to be part of the reason those numbers decrease. Residents of Missouri and the surrounding area can take part in National Domestic Violence Awareness Month by being an advocate to victims and survivors by recognizing the signs of domestic violence, being an active bystander, and knowing local resources. Joplin’s local Lafayette House is open 24 hours a day and acts as an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence at no charge. The Lafayette House offers residential and outpatient services, counseling, community support/case management, and more. Individuals can call for immediate help at (800) 416-1772.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began months ago, domestic violence cases have increased, making it a more prominent issue. No More writes that “… domestic violence was already an epidemic before COVID-19, but the health crisis has caused a tremendous spike in incidents of abuse. Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted, the abuse will not simply end. …” This can also directly correlate to decreased mental health, as The Hotline reports that “studies suggest that there is a relationship between intimate partner violence and depression and suicidal behavior.” Individuals experiencing a domestic violence situation are encouraged to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233), or Missouri residents can call the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence at (573) 634-4161.
On October 1 President Trump issued a proclamation on National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, stating, “All Americans deserve a life free from the threat of physical and psychological harm. Tragically, far too many Americans are deprived of this right by perpetrators of domestic violence.” The President also commented on the issue of domestic abuse within the pandemic, as he said we must “face the consequences of increased domestic abuse. We must protect and support those who have found themselves locked down with an abuser.” He stated that $500 million was allocated in the 2020 fiscal year budget for the Department of Justice to go toward supporting nonviolent relationships and stopping domestic violence. The President wrote how the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a beneficial initiative, as he said, “While our work will not be done until we end domestic violence, these initiatives are helping victims hold their abusers accountable and recover from the trauma inflicted upon them.”