Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To understand domestic violence, we have to begin to look in — into our behaviors, into our families, into our churches, into our communities and into the policies that impact women and families.
Be nosey or respectfully curious
When you imagine a picturesque window, do you see yourself looking out onto a landscape or into the room and the people who inhabit that space?
To understand domestic violence, we have to begin to look in — into our behaviors, into our families, into our churches, into our communities and into the policies that impact women and families.
We also have to become more conscious of what we choose to see and not see.
Domestic violence often happens behind closed doors where many of us are not physically present. However, this does not excuse our ignorance or inaction.
I am a mother. There have been many times when, despite not being in the room with my children, I was aware that something was happening of which I did not approve. I tell my children that I have “eyes in the back of my head.” I have an investment in keeping my children safe and holding them accountable to certain standards of behavior.
We need to develop that same sixth sense when it comes to domestic violence. We’ve created a guide to help identify the types of violence children experience.
God calls us to do the same.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Use this month to investigate how you, your communities and congregations are prepared to deal with domestic and intimate partner violence. Here are some questions I encourage you to ask.
Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims are women.
- How are women and girls valued, heard, respected and believed in your community?
The most frequent age when intimate partner violence is first experienced by women is between 18-24 (39 percent), followed by age 11-17 (22 percent).
- How are you talking about and modeling healthy relationships with young people in your family, church and community?
Immigrant women are particularly vulnerable to domestic violence and may feel trapped in abusive relationships because of immigration laws, language barriers, social isolation, and lack of financial resources.
- How are your church and broader community (including law enforcement officers) equipped to respect and honor the dignity of immigrants?
Among victims of child abuse, 40 percent report domestic violence in the home.
- How are you breaking the societal silence about domestic violence so that children in your family, church and community know that violence in homes and intimate relationships can end?
What is domestic or intimate partner violence?
Domestic violence or intimate partner violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviours including physical, sexual and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion used by adults or adolescents against their current or former intimate partners.
Examples of physical abuse include slapping, shaking, beating with fist or object, strangulation, burning, kicking and threats with a knife.
Sexual abuse includes coerced sex through threats or intimidation or through physical force, forcing unwanted sexual acts, forcing sex in front of others and forcing sex with others.
Psychological abuse involves isolation from others, excessive jealousy, control of his or her activities, verbal aggression, intimidation through destruction of property, harassment or stalking, threats of violence and constant belittling and humiliation.