National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is a time to honor victims and raise awareness about the devastating impact of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another partner. Domestic violence affects men, women, and children of all races, religions, and cultures, without prejudice.
The first step in preventing domestic violence is recognizing the warning signs. Abuse often begins subtly and gets worse over time. The following list, while not all-inclusive, may indicate potential signs of domestic violence.
- Isolation – Permission is needed before making plans or speaking to friends and family members. Victims may be forced to quit their jobs or drop out of school.
- Low Self-Esteem – Feeling deserving of the abuser’s violence, accepting fault for, and making excuses for their partner’s behavior.
- Unexplained Injuries – Bruises, cuts, scrapes, or even broken bones that are blamed on clumsiness or are in multiple stages of healing.
- Depression or Anxiety – Persistent feelings of hopelessness, fear of angering their partner, and fear of repercussions for seeking help.
If you are concerned that someone you care about is in an abusive relationship, you should consult with an expert on the best way to intervene. The National Domestic Violence Hotline recommends the following approach:
- Express your concerns gently and in a non-judgmental way.
- Encourage participation in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family.
- Encourage outreach to people who can provide help and guidance.
- Provide the phone number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-SAFE (7233).
- Continue to be supportive, no matter what someone decides to do.
For more information and guidance on helping someone who is experiencing domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free at 800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also contact your Component Employee Assistance Program for guidance and resources.