Domestic Violence Awareness Month

domestic violenceEvery October in the Washington, D.C. area brings the much anticipated crispness of fall after the humid summer. As leaves change into reds, golds, and oranges, we throw on scarves and boots, replace iced coffees with steaming pumpkin spice lattes, and spend weekends watching football. Yet in recent years October has also brought a steady stream of pink. As the calendar moves to October 1, websites go “pink for October,” football players don brightly hued shoelaces and armbands, and pink ribbons adorn T-shirts, minivans, even jars of salsa. October has become synonymous with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a widespread campaign to promote breast cancer research, prevention, and treatment.

Breast cancer is undoubtedly an awful disease. With about 250,000 men and women diagnosed yearly, we are well in need of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, the surge of pink lately has overshadowed another important color: purple, the color of the Domestic Violence Awareness Project.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but you wouldn’t know it by looking out on the football field or in the grocery store. Nor are the victims of domestic violence readily visible by their outward appearances. This does not mean there aren’t any victims. In fact, the number of victims is staggering: according to the CDC, nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in the U.S., aged 18 or older, have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Domestic violence is so prevalent that is costing the U.S. economy $5.1 billion a year, of which $4.1 billion goes directly to medical and mental health services.

By these statistics, every one of us probably knows someone who has experienced domestic violence in his or her life, yet the nature of this crisis hinders us from talking about it. Domestic violence, committed within the privacy of homes, is a nearly invisible crime. Sometimes this abuse has physical manifestations, but it is often emotional or psychological, which leaves no concrete evidence for police—in the case that the victim reports the crime. More often than not, however, domestic violence cases are never reported. Many victims cannot safely go to the police without fear of retribution, or worse still, they do not realize that they are experiencing abuse. It’s a dangerous cycle that the people at the National Domestic Violence Hotline understand.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims to find safety and begin lives free of abuse. Callers can reach highly trained advocates 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and will receive “compassionate support, crisis intervention information and referral services in over 170 languages.” The Hotline’s website also provides information on identifying abuse and steps to help a friend or loved one through an abusive relationship.

Truist Operations Analyst, Meghan Ball, is particularly dedicated to this cause as an advocate for women’s rights. Meghan has been involved with various non-profit organizations that work to improve the lives of women: one component being the fight against domestic violence. In the U.S., an estimated 1.3 million women a year are victims of domestic violence, of which most are young women, a demographic that includes Meghan, her sister, and many of her friends. While she is fortunate to have no personal stories to recount, Meghan believes that domestic violence is serious crime and public health problem. All people deserve safe, loving relationships, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline is doing good work to deliver this.

Meghan asks that this month, amidst all the pink, you don’t forget to think Purple.

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