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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Speak Out!

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children.

It is important for us to enlighten ourselves about domestic violence, the patterns, and the myths. Domestic violence occurs when behaviors are used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating. Examples of abuse include name-calling or putdowns, keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends, withholding money, stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job, actual or threatened physical harm, sexual assault, stalking and intimidation. Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological and financial abuse are not criminal behaviors, they are still forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence. The violence takes many forms and can happen all the time or once in a while. An important step to help yourself or someone you know in preventing or stopping violence is recognizing the warning signs listed on the “Violence Wheel.”

ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM! Victims can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. Although both men and women can be abused, most victims are women. Children in homes where there is domestic violence are more likely to be abused and/or neglected. Most children in these homes know about the violence. Even if a child is not physically harmed, they could develop emotional and behavior problems.

Myths about Domestic Violence

  • Domestic violence only happens to poor women and women of color.
  • Some people deserve to be hit.
  • Alcohol, drug abuse, stress, and mental illness cause domestic violence.
  • Domestic violence is a personal problem between a husband and a wife.
  • If it were that bad, she would just leave.

If you are being abused, REMEMBER

  • You are not alone
  • It is not your fault
  • Help is available

To learn more about this issue, visit www.domestic violence.org.  If you are a victim and need help, you may also contact the local Life Crisis Center at 410-749-HELP or Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services at 410-641-4598.

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