October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but domestic violence is something we all should be aware of every day. For so long, domestic violence was considered to be nobody’s business because it usually happened in the privacy of the home. We realize now that domestic violence IS our business; indeed it is everyone’s business. The costs to our economy are staggering. The pain the abuse causes the victims and their families is sometimes unbearable. Bullying and other forms of violence can result from exposure to domestic violence as well.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior designed to keep the victim of abuse under the power and control of the abuser. This occurs in a family, intimate partner, dating or caretaking situation. Domestic violence has no boundaries; it happens in all income brackets and at all levels of education to people of all races, religions or sexual orientation. More than one in three women and more than one in four men report abusive incidents or stalking from an intimate partner in their lifetime. 1.3 million women report being assaulted every year; 85% of victims are women. The economic costs are staggering; domestic violence costs our national economy $5.8 billion dollars annually. DV victims lose 8 million days of paid work each year, equivalent to 32,000 fulltime jobs. Each year, 5.6 million days of household productivity are lost.
The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence recently released the results of their annual survey of domestic violence homicides in Illinois. From July 1, 2016 to June 31, 2017, 44 domestic violence incidents resulted in 61 deaths; 47 were homicides and 14 were suicides. All of the suicides followed a homicidal death; none were stand-alone incidents. When you read these facts and examine the statistics, it is obvious that domestic violence is something we need to be aware of every day, not just in the month of October.
What can each of us do to help stop domestic violence and to offer support to victims? If you suspect domestic violence is happening to a friend, neighbor or loved one, reach out to them to offer support and encouragement. Just knowing that someone cares can sometimes be a first step to a victim seeking help. Refer them to your local domestic violence program and let them know there is help available. If you hear……or think you hear…….domestic violence happening, call your local authorities. It is better to call and be wrong, than not to call and be sorry if something terrible happens. Educate yourself on domestic violence to know the signs. All of our Dove programs offer community education and are thrilled to present it when we are asked to do so. Dove also offers volunteer training a couple of times each year to educate people who have a desire to help. Our rural programs are generally staffed with just one person, so we would welcome all the help we can get. Even though our Decatur program is now at full staff, volunteers are the lifeblood of our programs. We never have too many trained, caring individuals to help with our mission. Consider donating to your local programs financially as well, or talking with your church leaders about joining the Dove family of congregations to support our programs. Finally, prayer for the victims and their families, for the abusers and for our programs is always welcome. Together, hopefully we can stop………..or slow down…….this horrific abusive pattern.
Decatur office 217-428-6616 Crisis Line 217-423-2238
Clinton office 217-935-6619 Crisis Line 217-935-6072
Shelbyville office 217-774-3121 Crisis Line 217-774-4888
Sullivan office 217-728-9303 Crisis Line 217-728-9334
Shelby County Domestic Violence Coordinator