Everyone Knows Someone
Domestic violence is not always physical - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
The prevalence of domestic violence has once again entered the spotlight recently, making headlines both locally and nationally. When many people think about domestic violence, they often think of the depictions they have seen on TV or in movies — hitting, punching, bruises, the things that we can see. Many times, though, its most intense and damaging forms include emotional abuse, verbal abuse, stalking, monitoring, and beyond.
Domestic violence is a deliberate pattern of behaviors used to gain and maintain power and control in an intimate relationship. "Domestic violence and abuse are not always physical, and the effects of emotional abuse and coercive control can have long and painful impacts that are just as hard to recover from as physical violence," said Robyn Young, director of domestic violence services at SafeNet. "The chances are likely you know someone who is experiencing or has experienced violence by an intimate partner or family member, even if you aren't aware of it happening. In fact, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes." Women ages 18-24 are the highest risk group for becoming a victim of intimate partner violence.
The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It provides an opportunity to remember victims of domestic violence, raise awareness of what domestic violence is, how to recognize it, and what we can all do to collectively prevent it. There are a number of events and projects happening locally to raise awareness, including the Clothesline Project at Mercyhurst University and SafeNet's Silent Witness displays. Domestic Violence Awareness Month serves as a reminder that domestic violence affects the safety and well-being of whole families and communities and can quickly turn lethal. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence most recent statistics, in 2019, 39 women, men, and children lost their lives at the hands of a relative, totaling 294 victims killed by a relative since 2010. Additional statistics about domestic violence fatalities can be found in PCADV's 2019 Fatality Report.
If you think someone you know is in an abusive relationship, let them know there's a place to find help. Encourage them to reach out to an accredited domestic violence agency, in Erie that agency is SafeNet. SafeNet can help with free and confidential resources such as counseling, legal services, safe housing options, and safety planning. SafeNet is Erie's only accredited domestic violence agency and has a hotline 24/7 at (814)454-8161.
Common Warning Signs of Abusive Relationships
Abusers go to great lengths to control their victim, their interactions, and everyday life. Common indicators of abuse include:
- Name calling or demeaning comments; verbal abuse
- Extreme jealousy, possessiveness, or unpredictability
- Someone that seems too good to be true early in a relationship; the relationship may advance very quickly
- Accusations of the victim flirting or having an affair; control over what they wear or how they act
- Frequent phone calls or texts; tracking or stalking
- Threatens to harm or kill you, your pet(s), or family members
- Blames you for the abuse or anything bad that happens; does not take responsibility for actions
- Prevents you from spending time with family or friends and from enjoying hobbies and other activities; sabotages your ability to attend school or work
- Damages your credit by exceeding limits, purposely not paying bills, etc; may control or restrict your access to financial resources
Common warning signs that someone you know may be in an abusive situation:
- Their partner puts them down in front of other people
- They are constantly worried about making their partner angry
- They make excuses for their partner's behavior
- Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive
- They have unexplained marks or injuries
- They've stopped spending time with friends and family
- They are depressed or anxious, or you notice changes in their personality
Domestic Violence Awareness Month Calendar Events
Domestic violence awareness is associated with the color purple. The color purple is a symbol of peace, courage, survival, honor and dedication to ending violence. It is a salute to survivors and those we have lost to domestic violence. Every Wednesday in October is Wear Purple Day.
Friday, Oct. 8, 5:30 - 7:30 pm, SafeNet 1702 French St., Guest Artist and Speaker Antonio Howard will present Painting for a Purpose, a night of storytelling through art for victims and friends of those affected by domestic violence. Those interested can RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited. Artwork created during this workshop as well as poetry written during a separate private workshop will be on display for the public in the second floor hallway gallery at PACA, 1505 State St., during Gallery Night, Friday, Oct. 15.
Friday, October 22 at 7:30pm, 1020 Holland St., Express yourself on the mic with Miss Mabeline for a poetry night with words of intimate partner violence reclamation.
Amy VanScoter is a certified yoga instructor and meditation teacher at PACA and SchoolHouse Yoga in Erie with a passion for wellness, and a marketing and communications professional. She can be reached at email@example.com