Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2021
What You Need to Know About Domestic Violence

The History of Domestic Violence Awareness Month
When you think of October you may think of Fall leaves, apple picking or spooky season. You may not think of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), as it’s not widely publicized. Since the nationwide launch in 1987, DVAM has been serving to connect and unite individuals and organizations working on domestic violence issues while raising awareness surrounding the topic. Over the past 30+ years, much progress has been made to support domestic violence victims and survivors, to hold abusers accountable, and to create and update legislation to further those goals. Yet, there is still much more work to do! 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month allows us to highlight the current issues victims and survivors are facing; one being the stigma or common knowledge of what domestic violence is. Many people are quick to think that Domestic Violence means that one partner is physically assaulting the other – but it is so much more than that. 

What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. We encourage you to CLICK HERE to check out the “Iceberg of Domestic Violence” that provides a great visualization of domestic violence.  

The “tip of the iceberg”, or what is above the surface, are the things that we see in the news or are easy to identify – physical assault, homicide, intimate partner rape or sexual violence. These things are generally considered socially unacceptable and frowned upon by society.  

But like the iceberg, there are many behaviors that sit below the surface. They often go unseen and are considered more “socially acceptable”. These are things like financial or emotional abuse, coercion, victim blaming, etc.  

These “below the surface” aspects are perpetuated by all of us – as a community, in our systems, and as bystanders. When we choose to turn a blind eye to abuse or don’t challenge jokes and harmful statements, we are perpetuating a culture that accepts domestic violence.  It’s critical for us to acknowledge and advocate for not only what we can see on the surface, but what lurks below it as well.   

In 2019, the Michigan State Police reported 57,018 incidents of domestic violence. We know that countless others went unreported. That same year, there were 44 reported domestic violence homicides in Michigan. The recent pandemic has only increased domestic violence numbers – often increasing the level of danger that survivors are in when stuck at home with their abuser.  

One of the most dangerous times for a victim of domestic violence is leaving, or deciding to leave, an abusive relationship. When an abusive partner senses that they are losing control, they will often escalate abusive behavior and will go to extreme lengths to keep their partner in their control. Therefore, it is so important for victims to contact agencies like Resilience prior to leaving. We can provide crucial support including helping to develop a Safety Plan for when they decide to leave.  

When it comes to ending domestic violence, prevention is key. Afterall, we start learning about relationships from an incredibly young age. Children understand far more than we may want to believe. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) are potentially traumatic events that occur in our childhood that impact us into adulthood, such as witnessing or experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect. ACES can have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration. 

In a 2019 study, one in five Ottawa County adults (21.9%) report they were physically hurt by a parent during childhood. Additionally, 17.6% of Ottawa County adults reported that during childhood their parents or adults in their home slapped, hit, kicked, punched, or beat each other up. When we witness things like this growing up, we are more likely to accept that in adulthood, whether as the victim or the perpetrator. CLICK HERE to view our local study on how children are impacted by domestic and sexual violence.  

Everyone deserves a safe and loving home where each person is treated with respect and dignity. This is why we work so hard to raise awareness around this topic, and we hope that you will consider getting involved too! It’s on all of us to create a violence-free community.  

Domestic Violence Awareness Month at Resilience
There are many ways you can get involved with DVAM! 

  • The Resilience Series: Each week, we will be releasing The Resilience Series – a blog series that features the real-life stories of survivors that have embraced their resilience and found life after violence. Check out our blog page for a new story each week.   

If you or someone you know has experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking, we are here to help.
For free and confidential support, contact us today: 

24-Hour Help Line: 1-800-848-5991
Hablamos Español: 1-866-728-2131
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