How have your past experiences shaped the life you live today? Some of us live according to the values instilled at a young age. Others have happy memories that bring comfort with the slightest smell or taste.
Still, others have grayed out periods that appear foggy and stay repressed. Even the change of seasons can evoke different feelings and memories for us all. With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I want to share my story with you to inspire hope and comfort during a year that has proved challenging for us all.
It’s human nature to focus on the good and forget and/or repress the bad. In a lot of ways, it’s easier and can be more gratifying. However, this month is dedicated to the awareness of an uncomfortable and painful pandemic that has existed far longer than COVID-19 and has taken many more lives.
Yes, domestic violence is quite the killer of hopes, dreams, confidence, self-esteem, security, safety, sanity, and life. Ironically, COVID-19 has made this multi-century pandemic even more deadly by amplifying the fallout faced by so many in 2020. This is exactly why I felt compelled to have this discussion with you.
In my soon to be released book, A Million Little Clicks: Brand Vision and Strategy I introduce the world to a colorful past that has shaped the person I am today. This includes domestic violence.
How has domestic violence affected me? It was the catalyst that resulted in my siblings and me entering the foster system.
Shortly after entering foster care, my mother wrote me a letter expressing her deep sorrow for how our lives played out. More specifically, how domestic violence was still affecting her even after leaving her abuser. “I just got done watching “Enough.” It’s funny how I think it’s all behind me.
I had to stop the movie and walk away lots of times. Flashbacks, triggers, it all comes back not like a flood, but a tidal wave.” Like most traumatic events, the wounds from those impacted by domestic violence don’t just heal up over a week or two. In my mother’s case, it became a part of who she is.
As we have seen during the current COVID pandemic, awareness has been crucial to minimizing the number of lives lost. From the government to news outlets, information about the virus, and actions being taken to combat it were widely publicized.
A couple of weeks into the shutdown, the world was force-fed the data necessary to identify the signs, seek treatment, and, most importantly, how to prevent further spreading. Domestic Violence Awareness Month serves as the vehicle for the prevention and treatment of this horrifying pandemic.
It’s far more than a purple ribbon on athlete’s jerseys or an entry on our calendars. It’s hope and aid for those in need, education, and tools for those that can help. More importantly, it’s a call to action when needed more than any other time in history.
As a result of shelter in place orders, lockdowns, and the abundance of loss, domestic violence is on the rise. According to the BBC, United Nations statistics report a 20% increase in domestic violence cases globally. This is staggering!
Not only for the victims (primarily women and children) but for the ripple effect it creates in families and the long term fall out that is inevitable. In Chicago alone, there was a 12% increase from January through April 2020 versus 2019.
It’s also assumed that several victims have not been able to seek help as they’re confined to close quarters, and therefore cannot safely escape their abusers. According to the CDC, more than 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 children are victims of domestic violence PRIOR to COVID-19. Even more shocking and revolting is that 16% of homicides in the U.S. are conducted by a partner or spouse.
These statistics don’t show the bigger picture that will unfold over the years to come, but they should be alarming to you.
Want to know more or learn how to be part of the cure? Here’s what you can do:
Find your voice if you’re a victim. You have a support system longing to embrace you. Just take the first step and have faith.
Get involved! There are several organizations in your community that assist victims of domestic violence and several ways you can help both big and small. The smallest gesture or period of your time can change a life.
Be aware of the signs within your circles, and have the courage to ask if something seems off. It’s better to be overly cautious and save a life than stay suppressed and lose one.
Here are a few of the organizations I’m involved with directly:
I encourage you to click on each citation link and read more about domestic violence in our current world. If you’re the type of person who only gets involved when a cause is personal to you (this is most people, by the way), I urge you to read my book A Million Little Clicks – Vision and Strategy. I discuss my story in much more depth and paint a vivid picture of what domestic violence does to families and children long term.
Most importantly, please share this blog post with everyone you know. The simple act of reposting on social media or sending an email may mean the difference between life and death for someone you didn’t even know was at risk.