Bringing Attention to Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The month of October is dedicated to honoring the victims and survivors of domestic violence every year. The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines domestic violence as “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.”

Relationship violence is not limited to a particular race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. Today’s society tends to paint women as the primary victims of domestic violence. These illustrations fail to recognize that men can easily be a victim of relationship violence as well. Regardless of who may be experiencing the violence, it is important for everyone to be aware of warning signs.

Warning signs of unhealthy relationships include but are not limited to: non-consensual touching, forced sexual activity, rape, isolation from family and friends, abuse against pets, stalking, cyberstalking, manipulation, humiliation, intimidation, envy, threats, name-calling and the spreading of rumors.

purple ribbon domestic violence awareness month Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

According to Grace Fansler Boudreau, coordinator for the outreach and assessment efforts at the University of Maryland’s Campus Advocates Respond and Educate (CARE) to Stop Violence office, the word “domestic” makes people think you must live with someone for the relationship to be considered abusive. While college students might not live with their significant other, abuse can still occur.

Many college students find difficulty in recognizing abusive relationships and seeking further help. Some students might even be in a relationship for the first time and may be unaware of what a healthy relationship consists of. As a result, UMD students are encouraged to take part in CARE’s prevention education programming.

“Relationship violence is a serious issue on college campuses. 1 in 5 college women report being in an abusive relationship currently, and according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 men have experienced violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives,” Boudreau said. “Minoritized communities generally experience higher rates of violence, due to systemic issues of racism, transphobia and heterosexism that limit safe and equitable access to protective resources and safe reporting options.”

Boudreau added that those who identify themselves as transgender or nonbinary have a higher chance of experiencing relationship violence than those who identify as cisgender. 

According to Boudreau, relationship violence typically occurs in isolation. 

“Victims are often ashamed, fearful, or may be dependent on their abuser financially, among other things. Abusers rely on these things to ensure their partner does not leave. Victims often think the abuse is their fault,” Boudreau said.

As a result, individuals should be aware of the available resources around them and continue to check on family members and friends.

silence is violence protest sign Photo by Phil Roeder from Flickr

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals may find themselves trapped. CARE is available for all University of Maryland students. CARE has various presentations designed for classes, student groups, departments, Greek organizations and more. Students are encouraged to follow @CAREUMD on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to stay updated with relationship violence awareness events. 

If you or someone you know are a victim of relationship violence, contact CARE as soon as possible. Therapy sessions can be scheduled by emailing [email protected]. A UMD 24/7 crisis response line can also be reached by calling 301-741-3442. Additional questions can be answered by emailing [email protected].