Is domestic violence awareness MONTH helping or hurting?
If you are reading this then you probably already know that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. As such you probably also understand the significance of it. This month is designated to honor those who we have lost to senseless and unnecessary abuse while at the same time discussing the ugly truth about domestic, intimate partner, and relational violence and working to end the silence and the cycle. But is having a "designated" month stifling some important voices by making women feel they have to have permission to discuss their experiences?
The question is not about if the conversation has value or if it is necessary. Take one look at the raging increase in the statistics just in since the pandemic and you have your answer.
No, the questions surrounding the original question speaks to the bigger issue. Are we as a society doing what has always been done and putting a lid on it until October? Are we pretending like it isn't happening because if we acknowledge it then we may feel obligated to actually do something to stop it.
The work and the conversations surrounding domestic violence awareness, prevention, and recovery need to be discussed every single day of the year.
I often fear that we are relegating voices into an unintentional silence the other 11 months out of the year for fear of making people feel "comfortable". Well guess what, if you think that discussing the subject of domestic violence is uncomfortable, imagine for a second what someone living with it feels about having to remain quiet about it. It has almost gotten to the point where we say, it's acceptable to talk about domestic violence in October because everyone expects it at that time.
While I agree it is great that we shine a bright light on the need for action, and give survivors a chance to speak out about their experiences every October. I am equally thrilled that the subject is raised up, and pushed to the forefront of conversations, but I also know that abuse thrives in darkness and relies on silence.
This should be the norm not the exception. If we ever expect as a society to shift the atmosphere on abuse, we must start by removing the masks and make room for the truth, in all its ugliness.
It is imperative that we extend the conversations and continue sounding the alarm all year long. Open, authentic conversations must be had in living rooms, boardrooms, classrooms, bedrooms, and yes I dare I say, the church. Because both abusers and survivors sit in every one of those rooms.
As a survivor, do not let anyone silence your voice. When you are ready to speak your truth and tell your story, DO IT! Do it when the mood strikes you, even if your voice shakes. Do it for you! Do it for every woman, child, and man who has had their voice silenced by domestic homicide. DO IT, even if it is not October.
It is our job as advocates, allies, survivors, and champions to make sure there is a space in the room and a seat at the table to continue the conversations every single day, not just on designated days. STAND UP, SPEAK UP, AND NEVER GIVE UP!