October is important, no not because it’s the month when you finally get to drink the coveted PSL or buy the perfect Halloween costume, it’s important because it’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
What do you think of when you hear “domestic violence“? Do you think of a photograph of a woman’s bruised face? Rihanna and Chris Brown? That real story turned Superbowl ad where the woman “orders a pizza” but is actually on the phone with the police.
Sure, physical abuse is one aspect, but there are so many others that aren’t as well publicized. What about that friend you have who starts dressing differently because her boyfriend doesn’t want her to show her body off to other people? The woman who slowly but surely has her self-esteem and self-worth stripped away and starts to withdrawl from everyone and everything she used to love? The man who is too embarrassed to report that his girlfriend intimidates and controls him with unhealthy manipulative behavior? The wife who has to ask her husband for a weekly allowance, isn’t allowed to keep her own money and has no say in the family finances?
Psychological, emotional, verbal and financial abuse are all dangerous forms of abuse and should be recognized as such. Often all these forms intertwine and escalate and people can experience multiple facets of abuse within one unhealthy relationship.
Abuse is a pattern of dominance and control and it can happen to anyone. It doesn’t discriminate and affects individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality, educational background, or gender.
I know I don’t have to remind anyone what’s been going on in the Presidential debate this week vis-a-vis he-who-must-not-be-named’s disgusting comments about sexual assault and how it’s all just “locker room talk.” We all know that’s not true. Men who have respect for women don’t talk like that. If there’s anything that DV research can show you it’s how the slow burn of gaslighting can be really really dangerous.
For more information about recognizing abusive relationships, how to help others and how to get help if you need it, visit the NCADV website or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).