In less then 24 hours, Hawaii will be covered in the color PINK in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month that begins annually in October but did you know that the month of October is also the nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
No doubt that breast cancer is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition but you know what? So is domestic violence! In fact, domestic violence (represented by the color purple) is more prevalent then breast cancer but you’d never know that taking a look around in the month of October where everything from baking goods to tool kits are donned with pink ribbon emblems.
To provide a perspective of how predominant domestic violence is, consider the following scale of “what your chances are”:
- One in one: death and taxes
- One in two: divorce
- One in three: women who’ll experience some form of sexual abuse
- One in four: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
- One in five: mental illness
- One in six: boys who’ll experience some form of sexual abuse
- One in seven: Americans living in poverty
- One in eight: breast cancer
- One in nine: people aged 45-54 who are hearing impaired
- One in ten: prostate cancer
I don’t want to sound like I’m minimizing breast cancer, but considering that domestic violence and rape injures and kills more women between the ages of 15 and 44 than cancer http://www.sverigeskvinnolobby.se/getfile.ashx?cid=112004&cc=4&refid=1 I’m always blown away by how little attention, recognition or effort domestic violence is given during the month of October – and this isn’t a Hawaii thing either – the same thing happens on the mainland.
While I’m happy for the breast cancer folks’ success, it only points out how much we’re lacking in terms of our response to domestic violence and DV is the more lethal of the two – it’s also something that effects EVERYONE and EVERYTHING (whereas breast cancer is primarily all about adult women).
Whenever I’m asked how domestic violence effects everyone and everything, I always feel bad for the person asking because what I’m going to say is going to effectively ruin their day. Domestic violence information is ugly, scary, uncomfortable, hard to hear and threatening – it threatens your sense of safety, security and sanity – but ignore it, think “it won’t happen to me” or refuse to believe it and you’ll be walking on a false, shaky and potentially life-threatening ground.
Often survivors feel compelled to try to forewarn others about domestic violence and indeed, this drive is what started the grassroots movement against domestic violence: survivors sitting around a table saying “This shouldn’t happen to ANYONE”.
Problem is, if you don’t recognize the threat of domestic violence and how it impacts your life, it’s VERY HARD to explain and even harder to believe if you’re not in it – kind of like the scene from “Ghost” where the character, Carl, doesn’t fully believe in ghosts until he becomes one himself and of course by then it’s too late. Carl’s epiphany where he finally “gets it” is a realm that no DV survivor wants to see anyone cross over into because once here, there is no “going back” – your life is never the same. (See what I mean about grim news?)
BUT to end on a positive note… like breast cancer, domestic violence IS curable and thankfully doesn’t require chemo. The cure is within each of us and successful remedy will come with a collaborative application. Start by wearing a purple ribbon throughout the month of October and when people ask you what it’s for, tell them about it and we’ll be on our way to prevention and healing.