Next month, October, is domestic violence awareness month.

The ribbon color adopted by domestic violence to memorialize its awareness is purple. Why is it that we have these months of awareness? How does wearing a purple ribbon help to bring to light the suffering that women, children, men, and families face in the mists of this concern?

As quoted from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Web site:

Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect battered women's advocates across the nations who are working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became a special week when a range of activities were conducted at the local, state, and national levels.

These activities were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors but had common themes: mourning those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and connecting those who work to end violence.

In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year the first national toll-free hotline was begun. In 1989 the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress. Such legislation has passed every year since with NCADV providing key leadership in this effort.

In October 1994 NCADV, in conjunction with Ms. Magazine, created the "Remember My Name" project, a national registry to increase public awareness of domestic violence deaths. Since then, NCADV has been collecting information on women who have been killed by an intimate partner and produces a poster each October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, listing the names of those documented in that year.

The Day of Unity is celebrated the first Monday in October. NCADV hopes that events in communities and regions across the fifty states will culminate in a powerful statement celebrating the strength of battered women and their children.

(National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2005)

This month of awareness has assisted in bringing together those who work to bring an end to Domestic Violence, as well as move forward legislation to assist victims of domestic violence. As we move forward to October and participate in activities that support in bringing awareness and memorial to this ever present issue, we aid those who are suffering everyday to bring them one step closer to safety, and a healthier life for themselves, and their family. What might be things you can do to stop domestic abuse?

In your place of worship

1. Encourage information about domestic abuse in the congregation's programs, youth groups, marriage preparation, study groups, etc.

2. Establish a committee to promote awareness of the problem and how the congregation can help.

3. Organize a drive to collect food, toiletries, household goods and other needed items for a local domestic violence service.

In your workplace

4. Display posters or brochures (in break rooms, restrooms, or meeting rooms) to promote awareness of domestic abuse and how to get help.

5. Organize a Brown Bag lunch or other event for co-workers and invite a speaker to talk about solutions to the problem.

6. Ask what policies your employer has developed to keep employees safe from a domestic abuser who threatens the workplace.

In schools and daycare

7. Encourage the editor of the school newspaper to have a special issue about teen dating violence and partner abuse.

8. Write a paper about domestic violence to share with your classmates.

9. Educate teachers and other staff about the connection between child abuse and partner abuse.

In civic organizations, clubs or neighborhoods

10. Invite a speaker to educate organization members about domestic violence.

11. Organize a fundraising event or food/toiletries drive to benefit a domestic violence service agency.

12. Publish information about domestic violence and available resources in the newsletter.

13. "Adopt" a family seeking independence from an abuser, to assist with practical needs.

As a Citizen

14. Ask your local library to stock books on domestic violence and to set up displays to educate the public about the issue.

15. Speak out against domestic abuse: Expressing your view that domestic violence is unacceptable has a powerful effect on changing the norms that support abuse.

16. Write letters to newspaper editors or send commentaries to TV and radio to help raise awareness about domestic violence.

17. Vote for public leaders who take a strong stand against domestic abuse.

18. Call 911 if you see or hear a crime of domestic abuse in progress. Write down license plate numbers, locations, and any other information that may be helpful to law enforcement.

19. Volunteer with a domestic violence service. Organizations need help with office activities, fundraising events, technical and professional services and assistance to clients.

20. Donate used clothing and household goods to a program that gives these vital items to families seeking independence from an abuser.

21. Participate in neighborhood crime watch programs.

(Domestic Violence of Greater Indianapolis, 2002)

I urge you to take an active part in your community in assisting in bringing to light issues that affect, and touch your heart. In months of awareness, you too can take an active part in assisting to bring to light how we can all help one another in making healthier life choices that will result in our families and ultimately our community's well-being.

Joy Dugan is a Consumer and Family Sciences Extension Educator for Purdue University Montgomery County. Contact her by e-mail at jvanest@purdue.edu.