Stigma around domestic abuse can silence victims

One in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of domestic abuse by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (NCADA). 

Domestic abuse can include a wide range of behaviors such as sexual or emotional abuse, intimidation and strangling.

To help destigmatize domestic abuse, October was named Domestic Abuse Awareness Month.  

Domestic Abuse Awareness Month started as a Day of Unity in October 1981. In 1989, Congress passed a public law that named October Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, according to the International Rescue Committee. 

Domestic abuse impacts a lot more people than many of us realize. 

On a typical day, around 20,000 calls are made to domestic abuse hotlines, according to the NCADA. 

Many of these calls come from college-aged students. 

The NCADA said women between the ages of 18-24 most commonly experience domestic abuse by a physical partner. 

Taylor Brinson, a sophomore psychology major, said many college students do not know the signs of domestic abuse, so they do not know when to speak up about it. 

“It may be harder for this demographic to identify the red flags […] of violence or abuse because of the lack of experience in recognizing such signs,” Brinson said. “It may also be harder for people in this demographic to speak up […] because of the stigma surrounding it.” 

Being unable to speak about domestic abuse or to leave situations of domestic abuse can have serious impacts on victims. 

According to the Office of Women’s Health, domestic abuse can have lasting effects such nightmares, asthma, heart problems and migraines. 

One might think that with all these effects from domestic abuse, a victim would want to come forward. But for many victims, it is not that easy. 

Noah Young, the president of Psyciety, said many victims do not feel comfortable speaking about their abuse because of shame. 

“Domestic abuse cases are typically silent situations where the victim feels too much shame to speak up,” Young said. 

Many victims also feel as they have no one because the person they are closest to, which is their intimate partner, is abusing them, or they were forced to isolate themselves from family and friends. 

Some of the best ways to help someone who is a victim of domestic abuse is by making time for them, listening without judging and validating the victim’s feelings, according to Very Well Mind. 

However, there can be situations in which the signs of domestic abuse are not clear. In this case, the victim might feel helpless. 

But there are resources to help victims of domestic abuse. 

You can call 1-800-799-7233 or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline for resources to help get out of abusive situations.