EDITORIAL: Domestic Violence Awareness Month


Rachel Riddle

During an event in October 2018, participants walked in silence around the Memorial Student Center with candlelit bags just before placing them in the form of a ribbon to signify domestic violence awareness.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It’s important to recognize this month and to stand up for victims and survivors. 

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, shows itself in many forms; it’s not just physical, though in many cases it is. It can be emotional abuse, such as insults or anything else that may diminish a sense of self-worth. It can even be financial, an example of which is abusers purposefully ruining their victims’ credit. 

And it doesn’t affect only women. One in four women and one in nine men experience severe domestic violence, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website. 

A helpful resource to understand cycles of abuse, as well as to show how domestic violence can manifest, is a Power and Control Wheel. These infographics demonstrate the various types of abuse, and they break them down through examples. Examples of them can be found through a simple internet search.

It’s helpful to remember there are other resources. Branches Domestic Violence Shelter is an emergency housing shelter, located in Huntington, and the organization recently opened a second emergency shelter in Putnam County. 

“The Putnam County shelter provides eight additional beds for victims fleeing domestic violence and serves as a safe place for victims to heal from the trauma of abuse as well as access crisis counseling, legal advocacy, housing advocacy, food, and clothing.  As the population of Putnam County continues to grow annually, so does the need for these services, and the need for safe shelter,” Sara Blevins, director of development at Branches, wrote in a news release. 

Resources are free, and Branches is a non-profit organization. Each emergency shelter has a limited number of beds available for victims of domestic violence. There are also outreach offices located in Mason, Putnam, Wayne and Lincoln counties. According to  its  website, Branches also provides legal assistance, individual and group counseling and case management.

There are ways to help and ways to be allies. Not everyone suffering from domestic violence may be prepared to leave the abusive situation right away, so it’s especially crucial they have a strong support system. Confronting the abuser is not a healthy way to help, and it can be dangerous for allies, as well as victims.

This October, take time to recognize the signs of domestic violence. Offer support. And, if you may be experiencing domestic violence, know you’re not alone. Know you can get help. 

The National Domestic Violence hotline is 1-800-799-7233, and Branches Domestic Violence Shelter’s 24-hour crisis line is 304-529-2382.