October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Observed each year in October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month grew out of a single day; the “Day of Unity” in October 1981 was organized by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to connect groups that worked to end violence against women and children. The first observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month took place in October 1987, and two years later in 1989, Congress passed a law designating October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Domestic Violence, or intimate partner violence, is a serious epidemic in the United States that affects individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Domestic Violence can involve family members, former intimate partners (same or opposite sex), a situation where a relationship is “perceived” by another, etc. Intimate partner violence is a pattern of coercive behavior that is used by one person to gain power and control over another. It may include the use of physical and sexual violence, verbal and emotional abuse, stalking and economic abuse. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can carry on through generations and therefore last a lifetime.

Consider the following: (per Domestic Violence Statistics 2013)

Nearly one in five teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.

Worldwide, at least one in every three women has been beaten, forced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Generally, the abuse is a member of her own family.

Every day in the U.S., more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

Men who witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice more likely to abuse their own wives than sons of non violent parents.

Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.

Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.

A report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that rates of intimate partner violence decreased between 1993 and 2010. (Data from the National Crime Victimization Survey). This shows the ability to educate and spread the word about domestic violence because of the “Violence Against Women Act” has made a difference. A few of the findings are:

From 1994-2010, the overall rate of intimate partner violence in the United States declined by 64 percent, from 9.8 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to 3.6 per 1,000.

From 1994 to 2010, about four in five victims of intimate partner violence were female.

Compared to every other age group, a smaller percentage of female victims ages 12-17 were previously victimized by the same offender.

Intimate partner violence declined by more than 60 percent for both males and females from 1994-2010.

Female’s ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.

The rate of intimate partner violence for Hispanic females declined 78 percent, from 18.8 victimizations per 1,000 in 1994 to 4.1 per 1,000 in 2010.

Females living in households comprised of one female adult with children experienced intimate partner violence at a rate more than 10 times higher than households with married adults with children and six times higher than households with one female only.

These statistics are a sign of hope but our work is not done. We are on the right path but it is still a long one. Funding is less which means a decrease in manpower to assist victims and their families. This is where the public can help. Speak up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse. Don’t wait for the victim to come to you, ask if there is something wrong. Don’t judge or blame them, but express concern. Don’t give advice but offer help in the way of resources.

The Chautauqua County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault organize several activities for the public. During the month of October our Silent Witness exhibit will be displayed at four different venues – Jamestown Business College, James Prendergast Library, Chautauqua Mall and Jamestown Community College’s library.

This exhibit, which began nationally in 1990, remembers and honors victims. It is made up of life-sized red figures each representing a victim/survivor here in Chautauqua County. Although faceless, and nameless, they acknowledge a real person with real feelings behind each story. Take the time to read their stories, also read/take the literature that is on display along with the exhibit.

Domestic violence screenings will be held at Jamestown Community College, Jamestown Business College and Chautauqua County Health Department. Project Crossroads facilitates these and they entail having students/patients, voluntarily, complete anonymous surveys about any history of domestic violence. Also available, whether they complete a survey or not, are various pamphlets/resources to take, and individuals available to answer questions. If you are at any of these venues and asked to complete one please do so, your participation is important.

The CCCADV&SA is committed to coordinating a countywide collaborative network to address the needs of those affected by interpersonal violence. Through their unified efforts the coalition membership is committed to providing education, support and assistance, in a consistent, sensitive and nondiscriminatory manner. The coalition is facilitated by Project Crossroads. Project Crossroads, created in 1996, is an educational partnership between the Jamestown Police Department and Family Service of the Chautauqua Region. For more information about how you can become involved, for available services or educational presentations, please contact Project Crossroads at 483-7718.

If you have been a victim of sexual assault and/or domestic violence in Chautauqua County, contact The Salvation Army Anew Center Crisis Hotline at 1-800-252-8748. Operators are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.