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John McMillin: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

John McMillin, Wilson County United Way Director • Updated Oct 6, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Domestic violence affects millions of people, both women and men, of every race, status, culture and religion. United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland wants everyone to be aware that domestic violence is not only punches and black eyes. It’s also humiliation, yelling, stalking, coercion, manipulation, threats and isolation. It’s stalking online, jealous, constant texting, use of the silent treatment or belittling someone so often they begin to believe it. It’s taking away any power someone has to be who they are inside.

UWWUC wants everyone to be aware October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The official observance of October in this manner first began in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across our country.

In fact, in a 2005 survey, the Centers for Disease Control found one-in-four women and one-in-nine men are the victims of domestic violence at some point. Another study found that one-in-five high school girls reported being physically or sexually abused by someone they dated. Also, three-out-of-five teens say they’ve had a boyfriend or girlfriend who made them embarrassed or feel bad about themselves. This month, we ask you to take a stand to support survivors and speak out against domestic violence.

Believe it or not, if you aren’t a victim of abuse, you may find it interesting that victims often don’t complain. They may not do so because of fear of the perpetrator or partner; they may be embarrassed or, they have become manipulated so that they don’t even recognize they are victims. Often, someone only comes forward after an emotional breakdown or they are finally, seriously hurt.

As for the abuser, often they don’t understand that their behavior is in fact abusive. For example, if they were raised in a family where abuse at any level was the norm, they don’t recognize their own efforts to control others as abnormal.

With between 3.3 million and 10 million children witnessing some form of domestic violence every year, it’s no wonder that many of those children will view domestic violence as normal. Then the pattern of abuse/victim becomes a generation-to-generation statistic, what many professionals refer to as a cycle of violence.

Since the Violence Against Women Act passed in 1994, things are getting better. This landmark legislation combined new provisions that hold offenders accountable and provide programs and services for their victims. Between 1993 and 2010, the overall rate of domestic violence dropped by nearly two-thirds. Furthermore, state laws have reformed in addressing issues such as dating abuse in the workplace, employment discrimination, stalking and more.

Should you feel someone is abused, it is your duty to report it. If you or someone you love is being abused, there are a number of resources, including United Way’s 211 call service and our partner Homesafe at 615-452-5439.

John McMillin is president of United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland. Email him at [email protected]

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