October is designated as domestic violence awareness month, did you know?

By R.D.

Beyond October: It was developed out of a day of unity led by the National Collation Against Domestic Violence in October 1981, with purple as the official color.

This issue will not stop throughout the world as many partners will continue to abuse beyond this October.

Simply put, it is not about a single fight. If it feels wrong, it is. However, domestic violence abuse comes in many forms, such as physical, mental, social, and economic abuse.

Domestic violence does not discriminate based on
Socio-Economic Status
Sexual Orientation
National  Origin; and regardless of the season.

I have taken part in a three-mile walk during the Fall season for several years. This is a community event to support victims of domestic violence; including members of the law enforcement community, advocates, treatment providers, and other support groups

During my annual walk, I frequently think about the impoverished victims in poor and developing countries and especially many immigrant communities globally, with limited or no resources.

The challenges, revictimization, and the blame game and faces of Domestic Violence

Sadly, many victims do not come forward simply because they have to defend themselves in the public especially through today’s social media.

Photo by Liza Summer

Frequently it is not easy to leave these toxic relationships due to additional fear, economic reasons, kids may be involved and sometimes the perpetrators are powerful and well-respected in the community. As a result, many victims continue supporting the perpetrator.

Additionally, especially in many poor and developing countries; when a victim comes forward, conversations on these cases begin with the interrogation of the victim. As a result, seeking appropriate intervention or medical help becomes difficult.

Even more problematic than the re-victimization attitude by some, as if they had it coming.

What caused her or him to be abused?….. Why didn’t she/he leave?

But no one ever asked an offender as it seems, in jail, at school, church, or in the community; why did the abuse occur?

Often many victims, and even those who are tasked to help may deflect or minimize; or lack the proper training as a first responder to create a safe space for the victim.  This is why training is important to minimize potential implicit bias.

It is never the victim’s fault, whether forced sexual activities; intimidation, stalking, social isolation, economic, manipulation, deprivation such as blocking access to medical treatment.

Who are the real victims of domestic violence?

According to the The National Collation Against Domestic Violence; men and women can both be victims of this type of situation, but in most cases, women are usually the victims. In 70-80% of cases, men are found to be the abuser against a woman, and without intervention the woman are often murdered.

Domestic violence affects 40 percent of men. However, because of the stigma that surrounds it, this regularly gets overlooked, and the perception of weakness.

The UN figures also show that 137 women across the world are killed every day by a partner or member of their own family – a total of 50,000 women a year murdered by people they know and should be able to trust; a partner, ex-spouse, or some dating partner kills one woman every 14 hours.

The data is more than simply numbers

Domestic violence cases comprise more than half of police response calls, more than robbery, motor vehicle theft, burglary as reported

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old are 2.41 times as likely to experience physical violence. Over three million children witness domestic brutality in their homes every year.

Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence equally suffer abuse or neglect at a more elevated rate, as studies have shown.

Several academic international journals further state that domestic violence accounted for about 19 percent of the total burden of healthcare for women. An estimated 5.1 to $6.8 billion dollars resulted from victims who lose days of work alone, which is about 32,000 full-time jobs.

Many reports have shown that victims continue to use the health care system more than others do after the violence has stopped.

Domestic violence is beyond a primary victim, it can transcend into child trafficking from the run-away child who escaped a violent home. The UN also reported that about 15 million young girls are victims globally each year.

Beyond the COVID-19 Mask.

Simply admitting to being a victim could be a delicate balance between power and status. As a result, some remain in the shadow. One’s title or position does not exclude this type of behavior. Power and control are still a pattern of abuse against women or men.

Photo by Anete Lusina

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has caused anxiety, fear, and frustration, experts also reported more domestic violence cases from unemployed individuals some of whom are depressed and have other mental health issues, and where there were ongoing conflicts in these relationships.

Regrettably, in some of these communities that share part of our roots, culture, and heritage, domestic violence remains taboo, and in the dark. Additionally, for every abuse captured on camera, imagine countless other being abused today off camera, lack of support, and from outdated ideology. 

Despite the breathtaking backdrop and wide-open fields, beautiful shorelines, and white sand, often not all victims recognize a secure place to go for help, including perpetrators of domestic violence.

Domestic violence abuse mask in silence in many of these communities. A beautiful sun-glass may hide the scars from a violent relationship that may be seen as a day heading to the beach, a corner shop, or church, but taking this walk with me for awareness could deliver a positive and lasting impact.

Photo by RODNAE

The ongoing shadow and struggle to escape some historic belief.

This October has provided another chance to look deeper beyond gender-stereotype, masculinity, and sexuality that can hinder self-observation.

Experts also noted that despite a few groups’ interventions; classes tend to stay in the shadow. They lack proper staffing, often closed abruptly afterward, and offenders frequently require the cooperation of law enforcement to make sure they attend treatment programs.

When treatment programs are available, the dropout rates stay high and victims will use cultural reasons as an excuse. The lack of resources choked off by poverty sometimes can be difficult to connect families or victims to programs throughout many Latin American, African and Caribbean communities; including other poor and developing areas according to experts.

The fear of losing purely financial support, economic status coupled with racial intolerance, and social stratification; many victims stay silent navigating the cultural and legal complexities that cause more isolation.

Today, despite more rights and a growing shift towards gender equity, equality, and even upward mobility into leadership roles for women, it does not always result in more awareness.

The challenge of some regions; wrongdoers who carry that 16th-century mentality, and cultural beliefs that perceive women’s role in society as property, and bearer of their children have equally contributed to the cycle of violence.

Some men with very traditional beliefs may think they have the right to control women and that women aren’t equal to men. The masculinity that tied to colonialism where slavery’s tragic period cannot be ignored the dehumanization of black females who were relegated to the kitchen, as scholars have noted.

Even though many are still suffering mentally from the colonial tragic past, the mistreatment of some women cannot be only attributed to that dark period and we must debunk it.

Beyond the light, camera, and dance:

Before COVID-19, many cultural colors would have emerged in the summer for celebrations, dancing to the latest Soca, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Reggae, and Latin rhythms, African Beats or any other cultural events globally, but beneath many of these costumes, and one love vibes beats; someone is hurting from irrational decisions by the perpetrator of violence.

Looking back at the HIV/AIDS epidemic and although medical advances made it a manageable disease, it was through awareness and accountability that played a role in reducing the stigma in many communities.

We must move from minimization, acknowledge and establish a more protected space for victims and also get abusers’ treatment with accountability

No one is immune from violence:

Violence and death inside the LGBTQ community have increased since 2010 and continue today from ignorance and taboo; even by straight offenders who may have their struggles with homosexual tendencies, as studies have shown.

Today, our society is becoming more accepting, and advocates pushing for equality, but it has been an uphill run against high tides. Hostility remains in some social, religious, and political groups that see lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships as a sin and morally wrong.

This identity makes it rather difficult for a victim in these communities to look for and get help in an abusive relationship.

No, you do not have to be a member of the LGBTQ community or a victim to speak up and support these groups.

Is it time for a new treatment program?

Domestic violence creates a pattern of psychological barriers in overcoming traumatic experiences that suffer long-term critical consequences.

The nonintervention mentality must stop simply because a victim may not have a visible scar. Many reports have shown that victims continue to use the health care system more than others do after the violence has stopped.

Whether in Barbados to Boston or the UK; or a gay person who lives under a bridge in the Caribbean, being victimized should not make a difference: It hurts anywhere, and everyone must be at the table to develop strategies to combat this issue; victims, advocates, providers, law enforcement, and even prior offenders.

Has your community done enough especially to highlight this issue; or maybe political leaders should wear victims of domestic violence on a campaign button?

I hope the next time walk or run in purple, or even standing under a banner for victims’ rights; image for every story being told how many are masked in silence; even unable to get a like on social media due to the lack of resources and awareness.

Creating awareness to change course, starts with you and your community. Please use your platform because it seems though we are closer than before with social media awareness, we are further apart in helping each other. Stay safe!


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