When we think of October, we tend to think of Halloween, leaves changing, cool brisk air, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Race for the Cure, The Avon Walk, the pink ribbons, and the NFL even wears pink to honor those affected and raise awareness. Breast cancer awareness is a very important issue, and thankfully it has done much to get women to do self exams and raise money that has contributed to research, leading to earlier detection and a decrease in cancer related deaths.
While it is not widely recognized, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Though, there are no major organizations or celebrities working to get the word out about domestic violence. Local domestic violence agencies generally try to organize community events. However, most of those in attendance have a specific connection with the agencies involved. There are no celebrities, organizations, or media to help the public understand the significance of this issue.
Just yesterday (10/20) there were two excellent opportunities for celebrities and the media to discuss the importance of domestic violence, unfortunately neither took the opportunity. In fact, I was extremely disappointed in the Today Show’s reporting of a domestic violence situation involving a teenage mom on MTV’s Teen Mom. The camera crew continued filming while this mother hit the baby’s father several times, in addition to yelling and cursing. The focus of the report was whether she could be charged with battery and the possibility of child services taking custody of the child. These are both important issues, particularly the potential damage to the child. However, what about the fact that this teenager was abusing her boyfriend? Is it because he is a guy? Because he is significantly bigger than her? The only thing I know for sure is that we are in the middle of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and, if I remember correctly, “domestic violence” was never even mentioned.
A courageous Tyler Perry appeared on Oprah discussing his abuse experiences growing up. He talked about sexual abuse by four perpetrators, horrible physical and emotional abuse by his father, and physical and emotional abuse by his father toward his mother. It was a great show and will no doubt be life changing for many, particularly male abuse survivors. I’m not suggesting the show should have focused on the abuse perpetrated by the father, but it would have been a great opportunity to at least mention that it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month along with a website to provide more information.
When we think of domestic violence we tend to think of physical harm. There are other, much less obvious types of abuse as well. The emotional abuse is often much more devastating than physical abuse. You can heal from a black eye. Healing your mind and heart are much more difficult. The reality is that one in four women/girls will experience domestic violence in her life. According to the Department of Justice, more than three women are killed every day in the U.S. by their husbands or boyfriends. Males can be and are victims of domestic violence as well. It is not as prevalent and does not usually lead to the same level of physical harm, but the emotional wounds are very much the same.
My next blog will discuss, in more detail, statistics, impact, and signs. Until next time….