Friday, October 10, 2008

National Domestic Violence Month

Everyone knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  A lesser publicized fact remains that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month. 

Domestic violence against women is the number one cause of injuries to women--more than car crashes, muggings and rapes combined.  But when you look at the above list, one thing doesn't belong.  In car crashes, muggings and rapes, the other party is (generally speaking) unknown, not a person that a woman comes into contact with on a normal basis.

Domestic violence, though...domestic violence is only within the confines of a dating or married relationship--someone that the woman knows, that the woman trusts, and generally, that the woman loves. Domestic violence and abuse occurs in the context of what is supposed to be a private relationship, and that privacy, that belief that what happens behind closed doors should stay there, only perpetuates the cycle of violence.

It's time that women (and men) break that cycle.  It's time to refuse to allow to see our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, and best friends become trapped in an abusive relationship.  It's time to refuse to let violence that happens behind closed doors stay behind closed doors.  It's time.

I wish, for every woman that has been and for every woman that ever will be, a Laura Leighty.  I wish that everyone has a friend that refuses to give up on you and refuses to let the cycle continue, that believes in you and your potential to heal and recover and learn and have a chance to find real, true, honest love. 

Anyone can become a victim--abuse knows no age, race, religious, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic background...abuse knows no boundaries.  It's so vitally important to be aware.  Know your friends, and listen to what she says.  If you suspect abuse, let her know you're concerned.  Sometimes, just a clear voice of reason is enough to end an potentially dangerous situation.  Most often though, the situation gets worse before it gets better.  Never turn your back on a friend in trouble, and know the warning signs.  Not knowing is a death sentence. 

It's time to blow the doors open on the privacy that surrounds abuse.  It's time to break the cycle and break the silence.  Those that have a voice need to speak up for the so many women that don't or can't. 

For more information, visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline

For locally-minded folks, Penelope House is a wonderful resource for women in need.  Penelope House Crisis Hotline is 251-342-8994