A Comprehensive Guide to Domestic Violence
How you can help raise awareness of intimate partner violence each OctoberAwareness Month
Awareness months might seem trivial in theory—shouldn’t we be concerned with important issues like domestic violence all twelve months of the year?—but they are shown to be effective. Like a birthday, awareness months set aside a specific time to direct focused attention on an important cause. The media focuses stories on that issue or concern, events are planned, fundraisers are held and, inevitably, people are talking about it. One could argue that making even one more person not feel alone that month is worth the effort.
In October, the world collectively shines a spotlight on domestic violence during the fittingly named Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). So, how did it begin?
The History Behind the Movement and Its Color
The women’s movement was growing momentum in the 1960s and ‘70s, but few people were openly talking about the injustice of domestic violence, or even knew there were shelters where women could go to find refuge from an abusive partner.
On July 9, 1978, nearly 100,000 advocates marched on the capitol in Washington, D.C. in support of equal rights. Many survivors of abuse—at the time, more commonly known as battered women—were wearing purple.
“Battered women chose purple as an evolution of the lavender from decades past,” Rose M. Garrity, former board president of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) told DomesticShelters.org, because lavender was seen as a color of royalty.
As the battered women’s movement grew, the first awareness campaign began on the first Tuesday in October 1981. It grew to a week, and as more advocates and programs created local awareness efforts, it would go on to expand to the full month of October. In October 1987, as DVAM was officially observed in the U.S., the country’s first free national domestic violence hotline was in operation. More and more survivors felt emboldened to reach out for help.
Two years later, the U.S. Congress would officially designate October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.