Friday, October 02, 2009

October is (Also) Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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Almost everybody knows that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The pink ribbons abound and we see reminders of it everywhere. And this is good. This is an absolutely necessary and outstanding cause to put our efforts, time, and resources behind.

It's just not the only cause.

Less well known (by its very nature) is that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The purple ribbons tend to fade into the shadows, and the announcements are quieter, less assertive, and frequently missed. That's the nature of Domestic Violence. It lurks in the dark corners, the dirty shameful little secret nobody wants to talk about. The victims are often too beaten down to speak up, and the bystanders talk about it in hushed whispers, out of earshot when they speak of it at all. And in those whispered conversations you hear things like, "Why doesn't she just leave?" or "How can she let this happen to her?". And the victim is twice a victim. Once at the hands of the abuser, and again at the hands of society at-large. Confirming for her what she already feels -- she is alone.

One in 8 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. A new case is reported every three minutes. We're horrified by this -- as we should be. But I mention it more because as horrible as that statistic is, an American woman has a one in four chance of becoming a DV victim in her lifetime. And the frequency of domestic violence incidents in this country is one every nine seconds. Meaning in the time it would take to watch six women will suffer, and the clock will be running out for the seventh. Think about that for a moment. Do you know four women? I'm betting you do. Look around you. Can you see four women? Which one of them do you suppose is going to become the next statistic?

Since last February I've had the rare privilege of working with on her website, . In just a very short while, this little site has made a big impact. At a total operating cost of $0. The web space and domain registration were and the content is provided by real life survivors. VU doesn't solicit money, (and in fact isn't even set up to accept it if it's offered). It's simply a place where the silence is broken. And hopefully where the cycle of violence is broken because of it.

VU also features a (more or less) weekly Q&A with a professional DV counselor, and a recent question (and answer) saved me a lot of research and typing. So if you're looking for a way to help, read this article: Carrie's answer to that question has a list of great suggestions, but I'd like to add a couple of things for anyone who has a blog, a website, an account on FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter or some other social network. And it won't cost you a nickel to do any of them.

  • Publish a link to VU on your page/blog:

  • Link to, or better yet, embed the promotional YouTube video:

  • Visit and comment on as many of the survivor stories on VU as possible (new stories are published weekly on Monday and Thursday). Give those courageous enough to speak out the validation and support they deserve. Because for every story that's published, there are hundreds that are still ongoing. And someone somewhere is reading her (or his) life story in the words of another.
And if you need any assistance figuring out how to do any of these, feel free to contact me. (My function with VU is mainly tech support, so if you contact Maggie with a tech question she's gonna send you to me anyway.)

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1 comment:

Maggie, Dammit said...

I adore you.

But you know that.

Thank you for this.