October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was celebrated in 1987 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The goal was for advocates across the nation to come together to help end violence in families. The coalition saw a need to link regional communities to a larger, national effort to end domestic violence. Each year, we:
- honor those who have died because of domestic violence
- celebrate those who have survived, and
- connect those who work to end violence.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a chance to speak about this issue all month long. For many of us, home has become the office, school, and daycare – all in one place. For domestic violence survivors, this isolation that many of us feel may be harmful. While staying at home helps lower the spread of the virus, survivors may not be able to reach out to others for help.
Being with friends and family is often how survivors reach and maintain help and safety. Keeping someone away from their friends and family is a common tactic of abusive partners. It is also one of the ways that they make sure their partner won’t leave. Abusive partners will isolate someone to ensure that their voice is the only one the survivor hears. They may even control cell phone usage, track internet searches, and listen in to phone calls.
Survivors are creative about supporting their families. They are also creative about having their financial independence and protecting their children. Advocates are aware that many survivors are left without someone to call or talk to when they need help. In the City of Philadelphia, organizations continue to provide support to survivors. Women in Transition offers virtual peer support groups, self-defense training, and substance abuse intervention to help confront the issue from multiple angles. S
Survivors that are leaving a relationship and in need of shelter can go to Women Against Abuse. Lutheran Settlement House and Congreso de Latinos Unidos continue to provide counseling and support groups virtually. In collaboration with other city departments, the Office of Domestic Violence Strategies created flyers with the domestic violence hotline number to include in food boxes and to give them out all over the city. The office also received an Innovation Fund grant to create decals with the hotline number to reach survivors in grocery stores.
So, what can you do to be a strong member of your community and to help survivors this Domestic Violence Awareness Month and beyond?
- Check on your neighbors, and make sure your friends and loved ones are ok.
- Ask how someone is doing and then stay quiet and let them talk to you.
- Drop off socially distanced baked goods.
- Sit outside on stoops that are six feet apart and get to know each other.
- Have video calls with the friends that you are worried about. Let them know how to reach you if they ever need help.
Call 911 in an emergency. If you, or someone you know needs support for an abusive relationship, please contact the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-866-723-3014 (24/7).