Changing the culture that leads to domestic violence.

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The Real Goal of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

A few months ago someone posted a status on Facebook, “l really don’t know how to tell anyone and l’m sick of hiding it, l’m gay.” My immediate reaction was to offer love and support, because coming out can be both scary and exciting. Of course, the joke was on me, this person wasn’t coming out, she was part of a viral marketing campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer and I was told to choose a similarly shocking status to post.  Righteous indignation aside, I chose the least offensive of the shocking posts because my family has been affected by breast cancer.

Afterwards I thought, “who doesn’t know breast cancer, why are we ‘raising awareness’?” So, I began to process the purpose of awareness campaigns for social issues, like breast cancer and domestic violence, since October is the awareness month for both.

I realized that Domestic Violence Awareness month is not to tell people, “domestic violence exists”, but, to show that it exists in our immediate circle of family and friends. According to a 2013 study by the Avon Foundation, 53% of Americans know someone who has experiencing domestic violence. That’s shocking and unacceptable. If you don’t know someone directly, your co-workers do, your neighbors do, your family members do, your children’s teachers and friends probably know someone who has experienced abuse.

The point of domestic violence awareness month is for us to realize it doesn’t just exist in the abstract, on television, or to people we don’t know. Domestic violence is around us every day, affecting the lives of those we care about, we just aren’t aware. Today, make it a point to talk to a co-worker, a friend, a family member, or your children about domestic violence and how we as a community can support those affected.

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