Domestic violence impacts over two million men and women each year. Often kept a private matter – it is estimated only 50% of cases are reported to police – you may be unaware of individuals in your own life who have been victims of an attack. In general, you likely have had much more exposure to domestic violence in the mainstream media. Consider these recent cases, which appeared with headlines such as:
- Deadly student-teacher love triangle, husband charged with shooting high school student (Associated Press, March 19, 2007)
- Jealousy tied to murder-suicide of steroids dealer, bodybuilding ex-girlfriend (Dallas Morning News, July 13, 2008)
- Wife killed “over cyber affair” (BBC News, December 3, 2007)
These examples represent the most extreme episodes, with complicated back stories or odd plot twists. While the media often features cases with attention-grabbing titles like the ones listed above, there are hundreds of thousands of incidents that never make the headlines. Bizarre, complicated breaking-news cases often overshadow the more common non-fatal abuse cases that happen every day. As a result public perception of domestic violence can be skewed when viewers see only the stories that earn coverage. The good news is there are many organizations that focus on educating and informing communities and individuals about all types and degrees of violence. By learning why and how intimate attacks occur, we can work towards reducing, and ultimately preventing, domestic violence.
During the month of October, which is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, take time to look past dramatic headlines. Use the Charity Navigator website to find a shelter or outreach program in your area, or watch the short video below. Think of neighbors, friends, and family members that may be affected, and use this month to support, protect, and educate yourself and others about domestic violence.