October Lights Shine for DVAM

Philadelphia is pink. The fountain at LOVE Park is spouting pink water. The stores along Walnut Street have pink ribbons up in their windows. Boathouse Row has switched out its normal white lights for pink ones. The skyline is lit up in pink. It’s all because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the City has joined up with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. That’s cool. Breast cancer is scary and affecting more women every year. Awareness and the search for a cure is important.

However, in some other cities/states, the sky is lit with another color: Purple. October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).

DVAM evolved from the “Day of Unity” in October 1981 conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national levels. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year marks the initiation of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline.   In 1989 the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.*

Before law school, I worked at a statewide domestic violence organization. I remember helping to organize DVAM projects all over the state. Not that I don’t think breast cancer is important, it’s just that from my experience, October was always full of purple ribbons. Ribbons can totally coexist, though. Anyway, I digress.

There are a lot of myths about domestic violence, so DVAM is necessary to empower survivors and lift the cloak of secrecy that often surrounds DV. Some quick facts:

• Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or
otherwise abused during her lifetime.
• Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused
by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
• Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women. In 2001, women accounted for
85 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence (588,490 total) and men accounted for
approximately 15 percent of the victims (103,220 total).
• Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate.
• Women are seven to 14 times more likely than men to report suffering severe physical assaults from an intimate partner.**

New York State is going purple for DVAM. Niagara Falls will be purple, Albany City Hall will light up and the Mid-Hudson Bridge (at Poughkeepsie) will be wearing a necklace of purple lights. Check out what your city is doing for DVAM.

FYI, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (24hrs): 1-800-799-SAFE (7233); 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). For more information, hit up the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV).

Source: *Domestic Violence Awareness Project; **Endabuse.org

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