October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)

Did you know that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical abuse by an intimate partner? Last year, in Pennsylvania alone, there were 2,574 victims served in only one day.

What is DVAM?
DVAM was initiated nationally in 1987 and takes place every October. DVAM is a chance for everyone- victims, survivors, advocates, supporters and political leaders, to collaborate to end domestic violence for all. It also provides a time for survivors and supporters to tell their stories, and have their voices heard. 

What are the different forms of domestic violence?
Domestic violence can come in many different forms, and can often be difficult to recognize. Here are some of the most common types of abuse to look out for:

-Physical abuse: this can include hitting, kicking, punching, biting, pushing, strangulation, hair pulling, throwing objects, physically preventing a partner from leaving or forcefully making them go somewhere, unwanted sexual contact, the use of weapons to threat or injure.

-Verbal abuse: this can include yelling, screaming, and making demeaning comments about their partner’s looks, intelligence or worth.

-Emotional abuse: this can sometimes be very close to verbal abuse, but can include putting a partner down or calling them names, humiliating them in front of others, comments that make their partner have low self-esteem or self-worth, playing mind games or gaslighting.

-Financial abuse: 98% of abusive relationships involve financial abuse. This can include giving a partner an “allowance,” not allowing the victim access to their own money, running up debt or interfering with their credit, and interfering with a partner’s employment.

-DV in the LGBTQ+ Community: domestic violence happens regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Some instances of domestic violence within our LGBTQ+ communities can include telling a victim that no one will believe them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, telling a victim that they deserve abuse, or threatening to out the victim.

What are some of the most common warning signs?
Incidents of domestic violence occur more frequently than people may realize, especially if they have never been personally affected. Understanding some of the most common signs of abuse can help us all become better allies to those that may be in an abusive situation. Here are some of the most common warning signs to know:

-Being put down by a partner (especially in front of others)
-Constantly worrying about making a partner angry or upset
-Making excuses for their partner’s behavior
-Partner exhibits extreme jealousy or possessiveness
-Victims may have unexplained bruises or injuries
-Victims may isolate away from family and friends
-Victims may present as depressed or anxious or have significant changes in mood and behavior

How can you be an ally?
It isn’t always easy to help victims of domestic violence, especially if they are not yet ready to seek assistance or reach out for help. There are some things you can do, though, to be a good friend or ally to someone in an abusive situation. Here are a few ideas:

-Provide emotional support: just being there to listen and offering a non-judgmental and friendly ear can do wonders for someone who is trying to process their own trauma
-Do not judge or criticize a victim for the choices they make
-Help them create a safety plan
-Offer to accompany a victim if they choose to seek services and don’t want to go alone
-Help them identify other parts of their support network, whether that be family, friends, or social organizations to assist with things like housing, legal aid, and food
-Encourage them to not isolate away from family and friends

What can you do to support WIN or other victim-based agencies?
There are always a number of things that you can do if you want to support your local victim services agency. Here at WIN, we are always in need of dedicated volunteers to assist us with things like answering our 24/7 emergency helpline, assisting clients in our emergency shelter, helping with public education, etc. You can also make a monetary donation or donate items from our wish lists. We try to update these frequently, as our needs can change pretty quickly. We post them on social media, our website, and publish them in our e-newsletters. Other ways you can show support include participating in fundraisers, following us on social media for education and updates, and sharing our posts!

If you would like more information on our agency, the free and confidential services we provide, or information on our volunteer program, please reach out by calling us at 717-264-3056.