October may be Breast Cancer Awareness Month — it’s hard to miss the omnipresent pink symbols. However, if you see a purple ribbon mixed in there, you should know that it represents Domestic Violence Awareness Month, another women’s health crisis that mobilizes people in October.
Domestic violence is not about someone not being able to manage their anger. Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse and intimate partner violence (IPV), can look like a lot of things: Hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, throwing things, rape and emotional abuse, controlling or manipulating, intimidation, stalking and withholding money from a partner.
And this is a serious issue, especially in our community, that we can no longer be silent about.
According to statistics from the American Bar Association's Committee on Domestic Violence:
• Overall, African-Americans were victimized by intimate partners at significantly higher rates than persons of any other race, between 1993 and 1998. Black females experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35 percent higher than that of white females, and about 22 times the rate of women of other races. Black males experienced intimate partner violence at a rate about 62 percent higher than that of white males and about 22 times the rate of men of other races.
• African-American women experience significantly more domestic violence than White women in the age group of 20-24. Generally, Black women experience similar levels of intimate partner victimization in all other age categories, but experience slightly more domestic violence.
• Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18; the number-one killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.
Other resources on domestic violence:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
GLBT National Help Center: 1-888-843-4564
The Trevor Hotline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (Trevor is a suicide prevention hotline for LGBT youth — many people in the LGBT community may feel unsafe contacting hotlines that are not specific to the LGBT community.)
National (Teen) Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474
The 2011 Campaign in a Box includes a collection of sample materials that can be customized for individual use, educational webinars, and other useful tools to enhance your prevention and awareness efforts.
African-American Domestic Violence Fact Sheet (from the University of Minnesota's Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community)
Read President Obama's proclamation about Domestic Violence Awareness Month here.
(Photo: Courtesy dvam.vawnet.org)