Halloween Is the Last Day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here’s What You Need to Know.

TW: this article contains content on sensitive topics including domestic and dating violence. 

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close, it’s important to reflect on how we view relationships and external factors that affect our perspective. Interpersonal violence is an incredibly real, insidious issue that takes up more space than you might think in our media, culture, and personal lives. To look at the broad problem of interpersonal violence and how it is influenced and normalized by popular media and culture, we have to first define what is being presented to us. 

Intimate partner violence is when one partner uses abusive behavior to assert power and control over the other. 

Abusive behaviors may include verbal, emotional, financial, physical, and/or sexual abuse. This behavior encompasses much more than just the physical implications. Under the umbrella of intimate partner violence, coercion, intimidation, isolation, and minimizing issues or concerns are all abusive behaviors.

Intimate partner violence, along with sexual assault and stalking, make up the issue of interpersonal violence, which we see normalized in popular blockbuster movies, like Twilight. Edward famously watches Bella sleep, a prime example of stalking. He also controls Bella by isolating her from friends and family and makes her think she’s crazy when she starts to figure out that he is a vampire. 

We see this sort of obsessive, controlling nature that Edward portrays being actualized through the unhealthy relationship culture in our society. Uncomfortable gaps in age and experience, a sense of ownership over one’s partner, and authority over clothing choice are all indicators of a skewed power dynamic. The worst part about this is that because these behaviors and interpersonal violence culture are popularized in the media, these can be seen as normal relationship problems. This is shown through the statistics surrounding interpersonal violence. 

A CDC survey indicated that 70% of college students that reported they had experienced abuse or controlling behaviors also said they did not know they were in an abusive relationship at the time. 

The issue with these unhealthy and abusive relationships being normalized in the media is that a large part of our concept of relationships is derived from the movies we watch, the music we listen to, and the people we look up to. Currently, as a society, we are not only normalizing this kind of abuse, but perpetuating it by not providing examples of healthy relationships. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Mr. Anderson famously states that we accept the love we think we deserve.

When we are only presented with examples of love that are fractured, that leads to us accepting the bare minimum.

To properly combat and prevent interpersonal violence, it’s important to know the red flags and support your friends and family who might be experiencing it. It is imperative that as a society, we work to change the narrative of relationships that are being presented. If you or any of your loved ones recognize these red flags, please take advantage of the resources listed below.

 

National Domestic Abuse Hotline- 1.800.799.SAFE 

If you call UAPD  you can speak to the Women and Gender Resource Center at any time- 205-348-5454

Women and Gender Resource Center (for regular operating hours)- 205-348-5040