Office of Public Engagement

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Ed. Note: Cross-posted courtesy of Susan B. Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women, from the Department of Justice blog.

The Justice Department and The Office on Violence Against Women join all our partners in recognizing October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Since the Sept. 13, 1994 passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), there have been significant changes in society’s understanding of and response to violence against women – but there is much more that needs to be done to end domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

Hundreds of thousands of victims have benefitted, and their lives forever changed, because of the resolve and commitment to end violence. This has been demonstrated not only by Congress, but by all those who have diligently worked so hard over the past 17 years to implement this legislation in their crisis centers, police departments, emergency rooms, prosecutors’ offices, courtrooms and communities. 

But we cannot rest upon our laurels and let slide the progress we have made, or think that we don’t need to maintain our vigilance.  We have an enormous responsibility, to our friends, family, colleagues, communities, strangers, people from all walks of life in every corner of this country, to continue and broaden our efforts to end violence against women, children and men.  Sadly too many continue to be victimized; and as new professionals and volunteers enter the field, we need to ensure that they have access to the best practices and  training as we are faced with new challenges and tools of abuse.

In his proclamation marking October 2011 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, President Obama noted the effects of domestic violence, especially on young people and children:

… The ramifications of domestic violence are staggering. Young women are among the most vulnerable, suffering the highest rates of intimate partner violence. Exposure to domestic violence puts our young men and women in danger of long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children who experience domestic violence are at a higher risk for failure in school, emotional disorders, and substance abuse, and are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of violence themselves later in life.

Prevention and intervention efforts focused on breaking the cycle of abuse and violence is an important part of OVW’s ongoing work.  Over the past couple of years, OVW has embarked upon the development of a new program to broaden the reach of those working to end violence against women by engaging men and boys to work together as allies with women and girls. 

This is the first time in the history of OVW that a grant program focuses primarily on the prevention of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking by acknowledging the critical role men and boys play in addressing these issues.  That, along with the program’s focus on the creation of public education campaigns through the work of community-based organizations and local community partners, has generated great interest and excitement. With men as partners in this work, we have the potential to reach men and boys in new and creative ways, implementing programs most relevant to them and their communities. 

We continue to work along many paths to convey the message, loud and clear, that violence against women will not be tolerated.  We ask you to do the same in your own communities, at work and at home.  Your efforts and voices are vital.  Please join in this important dialogue.

We remind all those in need of assistance, or other concerned friends and individuals, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

Susan B. Carbon is the Director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice

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