October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is defined as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, economic, and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically.”

In the US, more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually. (1)

34.2% of Florida women and 24.6% of men experience domestic violence. (2)

With the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence helplines are reporting an uptick in calls. (3)

 

Fear

So, what can you do to help? 

#1 Have empathy. Don’t blame the victim. Domestic violence is a complicated issue so empathy is much more helpful than judgment. (4,5)

#2 Be a shoulder to lean on. People who are in domestic violence situations tend to be isolated from their support systems, so becoming part of a new support system can be vital in their decision to leave the abuser.(4,5)

#3 If you become part of a support system and your friend decides to leave their abusive partner, you can help create a safety plan or find resources that they can call to discuss how best to leave safely from their situation. A safety plan is a detailed plan on how to leave an abuser, from teaching friends and family a code word that alerts them that they need to call 911, to a suitcase hidden from the abuser that is filled with essentials. (4,5) Here are some resources:

  • Peaceful Paths is our local domestic violence agency. Their helpline is a valuable resource and can help you tailor your safety plan to your specific needs. Be sure to call 911 if in danger. Once out of danger, get to a safe place and call 352-377-8255, preferably on a phone that the abusive partner is not monitoring. 
  • MyPlan app is an app that can assist in developing a safety plan.
  • Partnership for Strong Families. The Cone Park Branch Library Resource Center Manager, Erica Reed, can assist in finding community resources that enable the transition when leaving an abuser. Just call 352-334-0456.

#4 Donate to the cause. Your old cell phone could save lives. Did you know you can donate your old cell phone (with the charger) to your local domestic violence organization? Since you do not have to have a cell phone plan in order to dial 911, your old cell phone could save a life. Click here to see what Peaceful Paths is currently accepting. Money or volunteer time is also appreciated.

#5 Read some books to learn more about domestic violence and the path to a violence free life. Below are some great books you can put on hold for curbside pickup, check out via OverDrive or Libby, or check out during browsing hours at certain branches.

See What You Made Me DoInvincibleNo Visible BruisesA Safe Place for Women