October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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How It Started & Where We Are Now

by Emily Dreher, Unspoken Voices Contributor


Started in 1978, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has been supporting survivors and creating a culture where abuse is not tolerated. Over four decades, the organization has created dozens of events, teams, and projects, notably the National Day of Unity in 1981.

The Day of Unity, which is still held on the first Monday of October, focused on honoring those who have died from domestic violence, and those helping survivors and organizing prevention efforts. Before long, those activities lasted for a week, eventually to become Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 1987. Every year since 1989, Congress has passed a law officially recognizing National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


Abusers can be intimate partners (such as current or former romantic and/or sexual partners), parents, or other family members. Domestic violence—which can include physical violence, sexual violence, emotional or psychological abuse, threats, and intimidation—is widespread and impacts victims with long-lasting effects.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the U.S. have experienced intimate partner violence in their life, with non-white ethnicities seeing higher rates of violence. Other populations that are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse include elders and people with disabilities.

Globally, the World Health Organization found that female victims of domestic abuse face a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, unhealthy pregnancies, depression, substance abuse, suicide, and homicide.  

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE), and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has compiled a number of resources in addition to offering their own free financial education webinars and tips for creating a safety plan.