Even though Domestic Violence Awareness Month is coming to an end, it is so important to remain alert and aware of exactly what domestic violence is, who can be affected by domestic violence (hint: everyone), how to get help if you need it, and even how to be the best support system possible if you know any survivors.
So, before you close out October, here's a brief run-through of what you need to know about domestic violence.
What is domestic violence?
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), domestic violence (or intimate partner violence, dating abuse, or relationship abuse) is "a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship."
Because domestic violence is repeated abuse, it is very unlikely it will only happen once. One Odyssey creator, Anaissa D, a survivor of an abusive relationship, shares this important reminder after opening up about her experience: "Abuse can happen to anyone, and being a victim does not make you weak."
Is domestic violence only physical?
Domestic violence is not only physical, it can also be emotional (verbal), financial, and even sexual. Regardless of race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education, economic status, etc., it could happen to you, so it's important to always be aware of behaviors in your relationships, particularly in your intimate ones.
What are the signs of an abusive relationship?
Another Odyssey creator, Emmie Pombo, shared 15 Signs The Person You're Dating May Actually Be Dangerous that she learned after her experience in an abusive relationship. The NDVH also adds that if you're unsure of whether or not your relationship is abusive (as it can often be disguised or hidden through manipulation), here are some warning signs.
What effect has the pandemic had on domestic violence?
Since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, domestic violence hotlines and shelters have sadly seen an increase in calls and check-ins because individuals were forced to quarantine with their abusive partners. Odyssey creator, Radhi Patel, outlines how this crisis cannot be ignored, noting that the NDVH alone reported a 9% increase in contacts (phone, online chat, and text) from March to May.
This statistic is also keeping in mind that, because of quarantine and being around their partners nearly 24/7, it's likely there are individuals who haven't called simply because it's not safe too, so this percent increase is, of course, much lower than what it would be if everyone in domestic violence relationships were calling.
How can I support loved ones who are domestic violence survivors?
Amber LeBlanc, an Odyssey creator, shares the 5 Things Every Domestic Violence Survivor Wants You To Know, But Might Not Want To Tell You, which is a must-read if you want to be there for someone you love. Besides being aware of certain things survivors may want you to know without them telling you, it's also important to know of different ways to help a survivor of domestic abuse, and Odyssey creator and domestic abuse survivor, Anna Kropov, outlined a few suggestions for you here.
What do I do if I am or a friend is in danger?
If you are or someone you love is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, be sure to contact or encourage them to contact a hotline for support.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (1-800-799-SAFE)
- National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 (1-800-656-HOPE)
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