October is Purple Month!

You might ask, “Oh, yeah? Really? Well, what the heck is that all about?”

Let me explain. You see, we wear purple—actually, a purple ribbon—as a symbol used to honor victims and survivors of domestic violence/abuse (DVA), which can include sexual violence. And in the LGBTQ community, DVA is referred to as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A). October has been designated as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the US.

Statistics show that IPV/A occurs with a similar frequency as in heterosexual relationships. Additionally, new research suggests that a greater percentage of LGBTQ individuals are living in fear of an abusive partner than previously thought. And each year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay men are battered, and about one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way.

Sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence and abuse are growing problems. What makes matters worse: incidences of IPV/A often are under-reported amongst same-sex couples.

Let’s drill down even further. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) states the following: “In the U.S., more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually. An incident of abuse happens more frequently than every three seconds.”

NCAVP continues. “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience some form of intimate partner sexual violence, intimate partner physical violence, and/or intimate partner stalking during their lifetime.” And try to digest this rather stomach-churning statistic: nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.”

To make matters worse, COVID has dramatically exacerbated incidences of both DVA and IPV/A. The pandemic has cratered the economy, making fewer resources available across the board. And the ongoing crisis is making it much more difficult for victims of abuse to seek assistance. As COVID continues to overwhelm medical facilities, it is becoming exceedingly more challenging for these victims to gain access to medical care or therapists.

In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), I want to share with you how this observance came to be.

And how it has grown.

DVAM evolved from the first Day of Unity, which was established by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in October 1981. The intent was to connect battered women advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children.

Soon, when a range of activities was conducted at the local, state, and national levels, the Day of Unity became a special week. These activities were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors–but had common themes: mourning those who had died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who had survived, and connecting those who worked to end violence and abuse.

Then in October 1987, the inaugural Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. In that same year, the first national toll-free hotline was initiated. And in 1989, the U. S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112, designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In October 1994, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), in conjunction with Ms. Magazine, created the “Remember My Name” project, a national registry to increase public awareness of deaths due to domestic violence and abuse. And on October 11, 2003, the U.S. Postal Service issued their “Stop Family Violence” stamp. A young girl, who expressed her sadness about domestic violence, created the design of this first-class stamp. Profits from the sale of the stamp were transferred to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist domestic violence programs.

I’ve made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on IPV/A, a hellish and potentially life-threatening, cycle of dysfunctional behavior. This entire month, and every month…

And always remember: the most powerful weapon the abuser has in his/her arsenal is…SILENCE!

If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233); the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901); the Trans Lifeline Hotline (U.S., 877-565-8860. Canada, 877-330-6366).

I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that includes resources to assist victims. Visit Wyattevans.com/ipva/

The time is NOW to break the cycle!