October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Recent events have made the issue of domestic violence, an issue that is not often seen in the public eye, visible. For every incident that appears in the news, hundreds more happen that never get reported.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month offers an opportunity for all of us to engage in the dialogue that needs to happen to create the cultural shift that will make it clear that domestic violence is unacceptable under any circumstances.

To that end, Safe Voices has adopted a theme of Use Your Voice for DVAM, and also throughout the year. The idea behind this theme is that we all — as friends, family, survivors, employers, health care providers, educators and community members — have opportunities to use our voices to speak up against domestic violence.

While we have come a long way to end domestic violence during the past few decades, and most people would agree that domestic violence is a problem in our communities, there are many persistent misconceptions that are impossible to banish completely without having open and honest conversations.

For example, the idea that all victims have to do to be safe is to choose to end the relationship.

In reality, only the abusive partner can choose to end the abuse. When a victim leaves a relationship, their abusive partner may continue or escalate their violence. Additionally, the idea that domestic violence only happens to people of a particular income level, age, race, gender identity or sexual orientation, is challenged when the fact is that domestic violence can impact anyone, regardless of those factors.


Further, there is mistaken belief that domestic violence isn’t widespread because we think we don’t know anyone who has experienced it, when statistics show that one in four women and one in seven men in the U.S. experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lives.

The reality is that most of us do know someone, we just may not realize it.

Those misconceptions can do real harm when they lead to victim blaming, judgments and stigma that may discourage victims from coming forward to seek support and assistance.

The more we talk about the issues surrounding domestic violence, the less pervasive these misconceptions become. By taking the time to ask questions, learn the facts and share our experiences, we can all be part of the solution by using our voices.

We all have ways that we can take part in the conversation. As employers, we can talk about having domestic violence policies in place to support victims and survivors in the workplace and conduct training sessions for employees. As friends and family, we can listen to what our loved ones are experiencing, offer non-judgmental support and let them know they are not alone.

As educators, we can include violence prevention programming in our classrooms.


As community members, we can speak up when we hear or see misconceptions about domestic violence being perpetuated.

As survivors, we can tell our stories and help others learn about the realities of abuse.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month provides an opportunity to spark some of those conversations. October is a great time to schedule a lunch and learn for your work place or community group, or post information on a designated bulletin board.

Wear Purple Day is Oct. 20. Participants are encouraged to post photos on the Safe Voices Facebook page. Come out to one of the events happening throughout the month.

On Monday, Oct. 3, Safe Voices is hosting the annual Domestic Violence Memorial Vigils at Festival Plaza in Auburn, the Norway Town Office, the Gazebo in Mexico and Meetinghouse Park in Farmington. All vigils begin at 6 p.m. Community members are encouraged to attend to show support for victims of domestic violence and to remember those who have lost their lives.

Throughout the year, services are available to assist those seeking support and safety. One of the most important ways you can use your voice is to help connect people in need with these services.


As the domestic violence resource center for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, Safe Voices offers a comprehensive range of domestic violence services, including a 24-hour helpline, safety planning and court advocacy, community case management, emergency shelter, transitional housing, community education, prevention programming and a certified batterers intervention program.

You don’t have to be an expert on the issue to let people know that there is help available. Support is only a phone call away. If someone you know discloses that they are experiencing domestic violence, speaking up to offer information on services can make a huge impact on their ability to achieve safety and security.

This October, Safe Voices would like to invite folks to explore ways to Use Your Voice (#UseYourVoice #SafeVoices) to help shape a community where domestic violence is understood and is not tolerated in any way, shape or form.

For more information on Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities, visit www.safevoices.org.

Kelley Glidden is the Director of Community Education for Safe Voices, the domestic violence resource center serving Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.

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