The month of October is dedicated to raising awareness about domestic violence and abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines Domestic Violence (also called intimate partner violence) as “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” Domestic violence includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as making threats and using intimidation. Domestic violence may be more common than many people realize, and both men and women can be victims of abuse.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV):

– A woman is beaten or abused every nine seconds

-1 in 3 women-and 1 in 4 men-have been in abusive relationships, and 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have faced severe physical violence.

-More than 200,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines every year.

Unfortunately, there are many myths and stereotypes about domestic violence that cause individuals to feel shameful or embarrassed about coming out about their abuse and  seeking help. These myths can cause victim blaming tendencies which can make it more difficult for individuals to seek help, and often times leaving is not as easy as it seems.

If someone you love is involved in an abusive relationship, it may seem difficult to help. What you can do is listen and be a support for your loved one and do not get involved in fights or disagreements with the couple. If you find yourself in the middle of an unsafe situation with the couple, call the police. Often times, finances, children and shelter can be barriers to leaving an abusive relationship. If possible, offer your loved one a play to stay or recommend places where they can seek shelter and support for finances and childcare.

By: Melissa Major, MHC-LP