Unless you’re involved in DV support and advocacy in some way, you might not know October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.
You probably do know that it’s also breast cancer awareness month. If you go shopping, you won’t find stores practically littered with products advertising donations to end domestic violence, you won’t find cutesy t-shirts objectifying and sexualizing domestic violence, or colorful magnetic ribbons to attach to your car. Domestic violence remains our little secret, overshadowed by something easier to talk about, something that it’s easy to joke about (ha, ha, boobs!). We’ve decided, culturally, that breast cancer survivors aren’t at fault, even a little, for their cancer. We can’t seem to get on board with the fact that domestic violence victims deserve that same support.
Together, we can’t even decide what constitutes abuse, much less who’s to blame. So I’m going to make it clear: no one deserves abuse. Ever. It doesn’t matter if someone (even you) thinks you brought it on yourself, if you antagonized your abuser, if you stayed out too late, cheated on your partner, if you didn’t listen, if you brought home the wrong grades, or for any other reason.
You have the right to safety. To bodily autonomy. To safely express yourself without fear.
Physical abuse is not the only type of abuse. From Misty at Shakesville:
“It isn’t “only” hitting, slapping, choking, shoving. It also is using the body to intimidate. Physical abuse is also causing fear and intimidation via punching holes in walls/doors and throwing objects. It is intentionally scaring a partner by driving unsafely. It is preventing a partner from leaving their home.”
Sexual abuse receives even less attention in the media and conversation than physical abuse. This silence only encourages survivors to keep their pain to themselves. From Pandora’s Project:
Sexual abuse is any sort of non-consensual sexual contact. Sexual abuse can happen to men or women of any age. Sexual abuse by a partner/intimate can include derogatory name calling, refusal to use contraception, deliberately causing unwanted physical pain during sex, deliberately passing on sexual diseases or infections and using objects, toys, or other items…without consent and to cause pain or humiliation.
There is another dangerous and insidious form of abuse – emotional abuse. Often, if you are being emotionally abused, it’s hard to recognize it as abuse because no it leaves no bruises. From Helpguide.org:
Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse. Additionally, abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you don’t do what they want.
If you are in an abusive situation, physical or not, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE or visit them here. If you or someone you know is being sexually abused, contact RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE.
These organizations are always in need of financial assistance. You can donate to The Hotline here, and to RAINN here. If you can’t make a monetary contribution, please consider making another sort of donation, such as time or shopping through one of their fundraising partners.