By: Amy Tannenbaum, Program AssistantPosted on October 25, 2012 Issues: Connecting the Issues

In addition to being Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month (affectionately known as DVAM). If you want to raise awareness for these causes, I hope you have a lot of purple clothes – last Friday was Spirit Day where LGBTQ individuals and allies were encouraged to wear purple to take a stand against bullying, and today in D.C., it’s Purple Thursday. Check out this picture of NWLC staff decked out in their violet best!

NWLC Staff on Purple Thursday

Domestic Violence Awareness Month began in 1987 as a way to connect communities working to end domestic violence, to honor survivors and remember victims, and to educate community members about the effects of domestic violence and how to prevent it. To do our part to spread awareness, we wanted to share five somewhat unexpected ways that domestic violence affects women and girls and intersects with NWLC’s work.

  1. Women can face discrimination in the workplace for being survivors of domestic violence. For example, according to Legal Momentum, such discrimination can include survivors being written written up for taking time off of work to attend court dates related to their experiences.  Employers may also fail to appropriately address domestic violence or sexual abuse that takes place in the workplace, coworker to coworker. Finally, if a survivor of domestic violence needs to take medical leave, she or he may face discrimination in obtaining approval of the leave.
  2. One in three adolescents in the U.S. has experienced dating violence, and 1 in 4 teenage girls have experienced sexual assault.  Providing girls – and students of all genders – with safe and healthy learning environments means addressing the intersection between gender-based harassment, dating violence, and sexual assault.
  3. Women need access to healthcare plans that cover domestic violence treatment and care.  The Affordable Care Act counts “domestic violence screening and counseling” among the services covered under preventive services that women can get free of charge – a provision that is especially critical for survivors who also experience abuse in the form of their spouse or partner having sole control over finances.
  4. There is a correlation between domestic violence and unemployment, and therefore survivors are more likely to depend on social services. Abusers often try to exercise financial control over women by making it difficult or impossible for them to hold steady work. Studies have also found that when women’s male partners experience unemployment, they face higher rates of domestic violence. Finally, if a woman in an abusive partnership decides to leave her partner, she may also be leaving his or her financial contributions to her family’s budget. Therefore, survivors may depend particularly on unemployment benefits or food stamps to make ends meet.
  5. Survivors of sexual violence and domestic violence often face victim-blaming in courts of law. It is important to educate the judiciary about domestic violence so that women are ensured fair trials free from victim-blaming.

There are only a few days left in October, but we all still have a chance to wear purple and to keep the awareness going all year long.