October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
MADISON, Wis. – Domestic violence takes a toll on the millions of Americans affected by it every year.
The American Psychology Association says 3 million children in the U.S. are exposed annually to domestic violence in their homes.
Emily Barnes, director of development and communications for Domestic Abuse Intervention Services of Madison, says the statistics regarding domestic violence are shocking.
"We know that nationally one in four women and one in seven men will be affected by domestic violence at some point in their lifetime,” she states. “Those are just the reported numbers. The national estimate is only a quarter of domestic violence cases are ever reported to law enforcement."
During October, which is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, organizations such as Domestic Abuse Intervention Services hold public events to increase awareness, and fundraisers to get resources to help victims.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, women make up more than 84 percent of victims of abuse between spouses, and 86 percent of victims of violence between boyfriends and girlfriends.
Reliable estimates are that 53 percent of men who abuse their female partners also abuse their children.
Child advocates say children exposed to domestic violence suffer low self-esteem, sleeping problems, depression, and are at higher risk for problems at school. Barnes says it affects everyone.
"What we know about domestic violence is that it really doesn't discriminate,” she stresses. “People from all walks of life experience it, no matter what their socio-economic background is, their race, ethnicity, gender. Really, it affects all populations in our community."
One of the most dangerous times for victims of domestic abuse is when they decide to separate from their abuser. The U.S. Department of Justice says domestic violence victims are six times more likely to be killed when separating from their abusers than at any other time.
"It really is an issue that there's a lot of fear, a lot of shame, a lot of stigma around identifying of the victim,” Barnes stresses. “What victims in our community really need is to be believed, to know that there are places where they can get help and get support."