October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.
I am not sure when October became the month we work to raise awareness of this horrible epidemic but I only learned of it last year. It is wonderful that we as a society are finally recognizing that there are men and women across the globe who are battling every day with hidden pain, fear, sadness, and hopelessness.
Domestic violence is not something that can be ignored. But too often that is exactly what happens. Often, those who speak out are shamed, those who seek help are questioned, and those who suffer are silent.
I was silent. For more than fifteen years I hid the reality of the nightmare in my home. Occasionally feeling the waters to see if it was safe to ask for help, but quickly retreating when I realized that it was a hopeless cause.
Yes I got out. With the support of family who finally saw behind the mask. I got out but it wasn’t easy, and even after I got out the abuse didn’t stop, it just changed. Twelve years later and I still suffer from the emotional and mental side effects. Thoughts and reactions that come out of nowhere, memories of trauma that keep me up at night. Yes, almost twelve years later, and I am still suffering.
This is what October Domestic Violence Awareness (DVA) is all about. It is about recognizing that those in these situations desperately need help. But it is also important to remember those who are trying to rebuild life, trying to learn to love again, not necessarily another individual, but seeking to love themselves. DVA is about giving others the safety and the tools to recognize the hidden pain and look beyond the scars to see the beauty of the person inside. The beauty that is too beaten down to shine.
How can we promote Domestic Abuse Awareness during the month of October? The NNEDV.org website has some good suggestions, or connect with your local outreach or shelter. Most of us can look around and find someone in our circle who we can see, or suspect, needs help. Reach out, speak out, and don’t walk away. The effects of abuse don’t go away just because the person got out. Years of hurt takes years of healing.
Healing takes time.
If you need help there are great resources & support at the website (http://www.thehotline.org) for anyone affected by domestic violence. Or for immediate help Call 24/7 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) | Live chat daily from 7am-2am Central