Special Report: National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2023

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[Content Note: Today’s post talks about domestic violence, w/in the context of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2023. There will be mention of certain specifics, but either way, if this is something you’re not in the headspace to hear about, I encourage you to give today’s post a miss and go check out some of my other stuff instead. No worries! We’ll kick it together some other time. Deal? If you decide to move forward w/ this post, and it brings up some difficult feelings for you, I encourage you to reach out to the peeps at the Crisis Text Line. If you’re currently in a place where there’s domestic violence going on, know that I see you, and I give a damn. When you’re in a safe place, I encourage you to reach out to the Hotline. I can vouch for them as well.]

Even though we’re nearing the end of the month, I feel like since it’s still October, it’s not too late to post something about National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2023. The way I figure it, every month should be National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and on that note, I wish this was never even a thing. The sad truth is that it is, and a very dangerous one at that.

Back in September 2023, President Biden issued a proclamation on National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, stating that “decades ago, much of our Nation wanted to keep the issue of domestic violence in the shadows. Survivors sat in shame, and society often looked away from what people too often dismissed as a ‘family affair.’

Over the years, these heinous views toward domestic violence and those who survive it have changed, but there’s still a long way to go. As sick as it is to think about, there are ppl out there who still think in the way President Biden described, and they’re happy to make it known.

No one group or community is immune to domestic violence. This affects all genders, orientations, age groups, socioeconomic statuses, religions, and shared identities.

Before I go any further, I need to make it clear that abuse is literally NEVER, EVER, EVER the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter how someone identifies, who they are, or where they are. Nobody deserves to be abused, no matter what others have either implied to you or spelled it out specifically.

This year, the theme is “Heal, Hold, Center,” according to the Domestic Violence Awareness Project. The idea behind this year’s theme is that before any meaningful change can happen, racial and social justice needs to be at the forefront. It is another sad truth that some shared identities are often the ones highlighted when it comes to sensationalized stories on TV about domestic violence, and in many instances, those shared identities are highlighted as a way of reinforcing stereotypes.

At the same time, victims, survivors, and thrivers who identify among some shared identities report that nobody believed them when they tried to come forward. There’s also the fact that many Black survivors report being treated like they’re the ones in the wrong when it was their partners who did it, and the justice system often fails them across the board.

In Native American/First Nations/Alaska Native/Indigenous communities, sometimes the abusers will engage their victims in a sort of “superiority contest” when it comes to cultural practices and customs specific to their Nation.

When victims, survivors, and thrivers in historically underrepresented and marginalized communities come forward to share their stories, they’re risking a lot. Their experiences become even more layered when gender, orientation, disability, or immigration status are also part of how they identify. Some agencies, advocates, and facilitators may not always know how to handle them, which can be disastrous.

No victim, survivor, or thriver should have to do someone else’s job for them after what they’ve been through, imo.

In order to center, it’s important to let survivors and thrivers speak to their own stories. They get to be the ones to tell their stories, and they get to decide when and where to do so, on their own time. Telling someone else’s story for them when they’re otherwise wholly capable of doing so only tells them that they can’t do it, and the teller oughta do it for them instead. It’s demeaning, and disempowering.

This hits close to home for me, and while I won’t get into specifics, I’ll say that it really destroyed whatever trust I had in the agency it happened at, and that I refuse to ever support it again. They’re on their own, as far as I’m concerned.

If this is something that seems familiar to you also, I want you to know that I’m so sorry for what happened to you that brought you to them, and also sorry they chose to betray the trust you placed in them. Nobody deserves to be abused, and nobody deserves to have their experiences trivialized and belittled.

At the time, I had no way of accessing therapy or anything like that, since I didn’t have a real job. I only the stupid shitty MLM I was caught up in, since no company was interested in anything I ever had to offer. This brings me to the next point mentioned in the project: not just a living wage, but a thriving wage. There’s a difference between the two, and in order to start the healing process, there needs to be fair compensation for ppls labor and efforts.

This means that when a victim or survivor is trying to move forward, but doesn’t have access to the resources needed in order to do so, the system is complicit in those barriers. On another note, I feel like companies that refuse to hire them on the basis of whatever limited work history they may have, or refuse to pay anything beyond minimum wage w/ equally limited to nonexistent benefits are complicit in a sense.

Everyone deserves to be valued for their skills and what they have to offer, and nobody has the right to fuck around w/ someone’s livelihood, especially when leaving and/or moving forward from abuse.

Last, but not least, if this is something that hits close to home for you, I want you to know that I’m so sorry for what you were subjected to. What happened to you wasn’t your fault, EVER. It was never ok for them to do you like that. You didn’t deserve it, and you deserve to be safe. If you reach out, and someone doesn’t believe you or is of no real help to you, write those jerks off and find someone else instead. Their actions are a reflection on them, not you.

Over to you, readers. How’d you celebrate National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2023? Got any plans to carry these initiatives over to the rest of the year? I know this is a very difficult topic, and can bring up some equally difficult feelings. I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways, so let’s talk. However, if anyone starts acting up, I won’t hesitate to hit that ‘ban’ button.

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