While October is often set aside for domestic violence awareness, victims and survivors need your support all year round.

A purple ribbon like this one is worn to support domestic violence awareness. Share on Pinterest
A purple ribbon like this one is worn to support domestic violence awareness.

Domestic violence is widespread but often flies under the radar. More importantly, it’s a crime that isn’t limited to any specific racial, ethnic, socioeconomic group, or gender identity.

This type of violence can include intimate partner violence, child abuse, elder abuse, as well as other types of violence between people who have a relationship with each other.

Understanding how to further bring awareness to this problem and finding ways to support victims and survivors of domestic abuse are the main goals of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is every October. While outreach campaigns occur year-round, October is when many independent organizations, as well as municipal, state, and federal bodies, bring heightened attention to domestic violence.

Key initiatives include identifying what qualifies as domestic violence, sharing resources that victims can use to leave their abusers, and encouraging friends and loved ones of victims to be more vigilant and provide assistance when they suspect someone is being abused.

When is Domestic Violence Awareness Day?

Domestic Violence Awareness Day is October 20th. On this day, domestic violence victim advocates work to bring attention to the widespread damage that this type of abuse can create.

What color ribbon is worn for domestic violence awareness?

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is signified with a purple ribbon. Not only does it represent your commitment to helping victims and survivors of abuse, but it also shows your desire to promote healthy relationships and relationship dynamics.

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Domestic violence is sometimes also referred to as intimate partner violence. It includes patterns of behavior that attempt to control another through coercive means.

Many people only think of physical abuse when they picture domestic violence. However, this is just one form of harm. Other types include:

  • emotional abuse
  • mental abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • economic abuse
  • spiritual abuse
  • monitoring or stalking
  • online harassment

An abuser can employ one or several of these types of harm to maintain control over their partner, child, sibling, grandparent, or other relative.

Typically, domestic violence centers around patterns. This means that the abuse is repetitive. In many cases, the abuse escalates over time, creating widespread psychological and often physical harm to the person targeted.

Learn more about how to recognize domestic violence here.

How common is domestic violence?

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that 26% of women globally have experienced physical or sexual violence as of 2021. Remember, though, that men can also be victims and survivors of domestic violence.

In the United States alone, roughly 10 million people experience domestic violence annually. Among adults, this equates to 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men.

While most studies on domestic violence include cis men and women only, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence notes that the LGBTQ+ community may be at higher risk than their cis and straight counterparts. Due to social stigma, LGBTQ+ individuals may face violence from their peers, family, or intimate partners.

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A good place to start with raising awareness for domestic violence is to help remove the stigma.

Abuse is more common than people think, and often society only focuses on physical or sexual abuse. To the detriment of others, people often downplay emotional or financial abuse simply because it doesn’t leave physical marks on a person.

Educating people on the other lesser-known types of abuse can help bystanders spot the signs and empower victims and survivors to come forward.

Likewise, consider reaching out to local advocacy groups to volunteer or provide assistance in any way they need. This can include hosting a drive for personal care items, as well as toys for children of abuse survivors. Often, those affected have to leave dangerous situations — which means leaving behind much of their personal belongings.

Don’t discount the importance of discussing healthy relationship dynamics with your own children and others. From understanding the importance of communication, to identifying warning signs that a relationship is dangerous, education can save a person from ignoring red flags before the abuse begins. Likewise, this tactic can help to prevent children from repeating the cycle in adulthood.

Finally, build ties in your community. Isolation is one of the key factors that keep a person in an abusive situation. Reaching out to neighbors, fellow parents at your children’s schools, or even other members of your religious or social groups can be a lifeline for someone in need.

One of the best ways to support a victim or survivor of domestic violence is to be there, judgment-free. Whether that person is ready to leave or is simply acknowledging that the relationship is unhealthy, be supportive and open. Try not to interject your thoughts or share negative feelings about the abusive partner.

Understand that the person may not be ready to leave their situation yet — no matter how you feel about the relationship. But they still need your support.

Offer resources such as domestic violence outreach groups. And if they’re ready to leave the relationship, help them make a plan to do so safely.

Also, encourage them to seek counseling. Leaving the relationship doesn’t put an end to the harm that’s been caused. Domestic violence in any form can have a long-term psychological impact on a victim.

Healthline provides a resource guide for domestic violence here.

Domestic violence is a pervasive issue, not just in the United States, but around the world. It’s not limited to one socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation group.

Meanwhile, the reasons a person might stay in an abusive relationship are complex, and you should try to avoid judging a victim or survivor who isn’t ready to leave that dynamic.

In the United States, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Use this month, and throughout the year to advocate for victims and survivors by bringing light to the multiple forms of domestic violence and supporting resources to help people escape harmful relationships and break cycles of abuse.