Editorial: The Shocking Truth About Domestic Violence

With Halloween right around the corner, many are stocking up on candy for trick-or-treaters, binge-watching scary movies and adding last-minute finishing touches to their costumes.

But as the month comes to a close, it is important to be aware of a scarier subject matter: domestic violence.

The month of October serves as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which raises awareness of domestic violence across the U.S. Millions of men, women and children of all races, status, sexual orientation and culture are affected by domestic violence each year.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence is defined as, “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.”

They further explain the different forms of abuse, stating, “Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation.”

Some statistics from The National Domestic Violence Hotline and LiveYourDream.org include:

  • On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.
  • Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.
  • There is a common link between domestic violence and child abuse. Among victims of child abuse, 40 percent report domestic violence in the home.
  • More than half of all college students (57 percent) say it is difficult to identify dating abuse.
  • A survey of American employees found that 44 percent of full-time employed adults personally experienced domestic violence’s effect in their workplaces,  and 21 percent identified themselves as victims of intimate partner violence.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent and end the cycle of domestic abuse. Education on healthy relationships gives insight to what abuse and toxic relationships look like and how to respond if one finds themselves in one or witnesses someone in one.

Accessible shelters, hotlines and other helpful resources give refuge and direction to domestic violence victims trying to escape. Laws, policies and procedures made by our legislators also aim to better assist domestic violence victims and prevent domestic violence altogether. But all of this starts with awareness.

Everyone deserves respect, love and the right to feel safe. Domestic violence has often been a taboo subject, but as time goes on, more people find the strength, courage and acceptance to speak out against it. Youngstown State University’s display concerning domestic violence-related homicides in Cushwa Hall is just one example.

This is an issue that exists in our own community, with 56 homicides from domestic violence incidents occurring across the state last year.

So while you’re winding down this Halloween season, be sure to remember those who could not be here today because of domestic violence, and be aware of the signs of domestic abuse.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799 SAFE (7233).