Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect battered women’s advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children.
Domestic Violence can involve physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse. Physical abuse means any form of violence such as hitting, punching, pulling hair, and kicking. Emotional abuse (stuff like threatening, intimidation, and humiliation) can be difficult to recognize because it doesn't leave visible marks, but can have just as dangerous immediate or lasting consequences. Sexual abuse is being forced into any type of sexual experience that you don't want.
Keep reading for tips on how to recognize domestic abuse, and what to do if you or a friend needs help:
Signs of an Abusive Relationship
May include, but aren't limited to:
- harms you physically in any way, including slapping, pushing, grabbing, shaking, smacking, kicking, and punching
- tries to control different aspects of your life, such as how you dress and who you hang out with
- frequently makes you feel humiliated or bad about yourself
- threatens to harm you or harm themself if you leave the relationship
- demands to know where you are at all times
- becomes jealous or angry when you want to spend time with your friends
- makes you engage in sexual activity when you don't want to
- says stuff like "If you loved me, you would . . . "
If you are concerned about your relationship, trust your intuition. If it feels unhealthy, it probably is.
Signs a Friend May Be in an Abusive Relationship
In addition to the signs above:
- unexplained bruises, broken bones, sprains, or marks
- excessive guilt or shame for no apparent reason
- secrecy or withdrawal from friends and family
- avoidance of school or social events with excuses that don't seem to make any sense
If your friend is being abused, they need someone to listen to them and believe them. Often, a victim of domestic abuse feels they are to blame. Remind your friend that abuse is never deserved and it is not his or her fault. Your friend also needs your encouragement to get help immediately from an adult, such as a parent, family member, or guidance counselor.
Steps to Get Help
If you are worried about yourself or a friend, get help.
If you are worried about an immediate danger, get to a safe space. This could be a parent's, a teacher's, a friend's, a hospital, or a police station.
If you (or your friend) have been physically attacked, do not wait to get help. Get yourself (or your friend) to a hospital immediately and have the hospital staff call the police.
After you are safe, contact friends, family and/or counselors. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
If you are in immediate danger or have been attacked, call 911.
Tubman Center; 24-Hour Hotline
651-770-0777 (East Metro)
612-825-0000 (West Metro)