This post was contributed by Emma, a loveisrespect advocate
We’re nearing the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to get involved! Domestic violence is an issue that affects communities everywhere all year round. There are always opportunities to raise awareness and support survivors. In honor of all survivors, here are 7 ways YOU can #SeeDV and #TakeAStand against domestic violence.
1. Speak Up: If you know someone who’s being hurt by their partner, remind them they deserve to be safe and respected. If you know someone who’s hurting their partner, remind them that they are the only ones who can change their behavior. In both cases, ask how you can help (if it’s safe to do so!). You can do a lot by simply speaking up. Not sure how to start? First, learn and share the warning signs of abuse. Then check out these posts on helping friends/family members and helping people who abuse. Keep in mind you can call, chat or text with a loveisrespect advocate 24/7!
2. Learn About and Share Resources: Everyone deserves support in breaking free from abuse, but it’s hard to know where to begin. Here are some ways you can help connect people to the right supports: Find community spaces at school or on your campus to post information about healthy relationships, abuse and/or where to find help. Find downloadable materials to print/share here. If you’re involved with groups or sports at your school, organize a time to talk about healthy relationships. You can also help local domestic violence crisis centers with food/clothing drives, volunteering or promoting their community events. Find out about local programs by checking with a teacher, counselor, or use the United Way website. Some resources our advocates suggest researching and sharing are Your Life Your Voice, GLBT Youth Talkline, Scarleteen and, of course, loveisrespect! Keep in mind you can always keep these resources saved in your phone or in a notebook to share with people who ask for help.
3. Share/Like/Post: You’re not alone in wanting to end domestic violence, and social media is another powerful tool for connecting people with help. Agencies like NCADV, Futures without Violence, loveisrespect and the National Domestic Violence Hotline are continually posting content to empower survivors and allies. You can do your part by liking/sharing on social media. With an estimated 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experiencing some form of physical abuse in their lifetime, it’s likely you know someone who could use the information. Want to be more active in your digital advocacy? Ask questions in comment sections so agencies have more opportunities to engage. Create your own inspiration on Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest to expand the reach of smart, positive advocacy.
4. Vote/Call/Email: Survivors of violence depend on stronger and more effective legislation. In 1994 the Violence Against Women Act brought a new era of liberation by funding a variety of programs and increasing legal protection for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. Today, victims still struggle to get access to lifesaving protective orders, custody arrangements, and other legal remedies. Stay tuned to agencies, like NNEDV, that are pushing for legislation, and when they need it, call/email/write to voice your support. If you’re 18 or over, register to vote and use your vote to support representatives and laws that help survivors. One particular area of advocacy to pay attention to this DVAM is teens and domestic violence law. Survivors under 18 often face barriers to learning about their legal rights, making police reports, and obtaining protective orders. Learn more about laws and teen dating abuse at womenslaw.org.
5. Practice Healthy Relationship Skills: DVAM is an opportunity for us all to tune-up our relationships. Healthy, happy partnerships are intentional. When was the last time you talked with your partner about what a “fair” fight looks like? Or when did you last ask yourself, or your partner, “Do I/you feel loved, listen to, supported?” For guidance on starting that talk, read our “Spring Tune Up” post. If you’re single and interested in dating, take the time to write out what you’re looking for in a partner or what boundaries are important to you.
6. Check In on Campus and Work Policies: Physical and emotional safety is key for healing from violence. For many students, having to share a campus and/or dorm with an abusive partner is a huge barrier. If you know someone who is being abused, you can help them create a high school or college campus safety plan. You can also advocate for all survivors by learning more about your school’s policy on dating and sexual violence. For university students, see what your school is doing with Title IX to protect sexual assault survivors.
The workplace is another important source of support for survivors. Money is frequently a barrier to freedom for survivors. An important conversation is growing around how employers can keep the lifeline of work available to victims of violence. It’s vital that all survivors (and all people) know their rights at work. Anyone attached to a workplace can promote the cause of survivors by understand work policies around safety, leave, counseling/EAP, etc. Become part of the talk around work and domestic violence by checking out this post on financial abuse, and this post from The Hotline on employee rights.
7. Stay in the Conversation: The dialogue on domestic violence is easier to shut out than we might think. We assume people who need help will reach out. We assume when survivors reach out there are sufficient police and social service agencies to help them. We assume that abuse ends when people leave. Worse, we assume that we don’t know someone who is in a toxic relationship. Binary thinking and abuse mythologies are social barriers that DVAM is designed to break down. Moreover, DVAM sheds light on unique issues faced by survivors, like those who are GLBT, male, teens, disabled persons, and all others who aren’t represented by the typical TV-movie-depiction of domestic violence.
We all have a chance to shape the movement against violence. So stay in engaged. Tell your story. Ask tough questions. Look at your relationships. When October ends, and it’s time to throw that old candy corn away, know more than you do now and be better prepared to make your community safe. Because everyone deserves a healthy relationship!