5 Ways You Can Help Make a Difference In the Fight Against Domestic Violence

As we continue on our journey through Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I want everyone to realize two things: 1) domestic violence impacts every community, so even if it has not impacted you directly, odds are it has impacted someone you know, and 2) there are things you can do about it.

There is no magic button you can press to alleviate the problems of domestic violence (though if wishing made it so…), but there ARE things you can do to help in the fight against domestic violence, even if they sometimes seem small.

1 Talk About It.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month may only last throughout October, but make it your mission to have important conversations about this subject year-round.  Educate yourself about domestic violence so that when the opportunity to teach others arises, you’ll be prepared. Learn more about how to spot the signs of an abusive relationship, before physical violence necessarily occurs, and learn more about how to talk to a friend you’re concerned may be experiencing abuse.  When you hear people make comments that are victim-blaming or that minimize issues like intimate partner violence or sexual assault, speak up.  You don’t know what kind of difference you could make.

2 Volunteer with a Local Domestic Violence Organization

One of the tricky things about victims’ services is that many across the country operate on a 24/7 schedule.  That kind of service is often only possible with the help of dedicated volunteers who can take hotline shifts or perform other tasks that help keep the organization running.  You can find information about what kinds of organizations might exist in your community by searching the National DV Hotline’s database, which is organized by state, or searching your state’s coalition against domestic violence’s organization, which will usually have resources organized by county.  If you are between the ages of 21 and 26 and live in DC or LA, you may also be able to apply to be a peer educator with Break the Cycle.

3 Donate Supplies to a Local Domestic Violence Shelter

Domestic violence shelters often help individuals who have to leave their home with little notice, who aren’t able to bring a lot with them.  Though this is a great time of year to think about donating supplies, keep in mind that DV shelters need help getting the things they need year-round.  Every shelter’s specific needs are different, but in general, many shelters need things like non-perishable food, things for children (coloring books and crayons, small stuffed animals), toiletries (things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and deodorant), and sanitary products (tampons and sanitary pads).  Check with your local program to see if they accept donations of things like clothing; some do and some do not.

4 Support Anti-Domestic Violence Organizations Nationally or Near You

I’ve already listed resources to locate community-based domestic violence organizations, and I’m a big proponent of supporting them in the work that they do, both with time or with money.  But you can also contribute to organizations that work on a larger scale, and you can find a list of some truly wonderful organizations working to combat domestic violence here.  In particular, I wanted to highlight a few great organizations I’ve been lucky enough to see in action.  Break the Cycle focuses on interventions with individuals ages 18-24, the demographic most at-risk for intimate partner violence, to help stop the cycle of victimization.  Futures Without Violence focuses on the connection between medical care and domestic violence interventions, providing training and technical assistance to medical professionals to help them better screen for and intervene in cases of domestic abuse.  Mending the Sacred Hoop is a unique organization focused on Native American communities, which face disproportionately high rates of domestic violence but often have limited resources.  Do you research and choose an organization that you feel good about supporting!

5 Stand Up for Survivors Politically

There are a ton of issues that intersect with domestic violence: affordable housing, access to low-cost healthcare, access to reproductive health services, immigration laws, consent education, and so many others, in addition to the direct funding of domestic violence programs across the country.  Contact your national and state-level politicians and let them know how important these issues are to you.  Write to your Senators and urge them to stand with Planned Parenthood.  Pay attention to how proposed policies might impact survivors, and stand up for survivors of domestic violence when the opportunities arise.

Domestic violence may be a pervasive problem in the United States, but there are ways to help.  This National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, take a moment to think about the ways in which this issue might impact your friends, family, and community, and how you can make a difference.  Together, we can all take steps to reduce domestic violence and protect survivors in our communities.

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~ by Randi Saunders on October 23, 2015.

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