by Wyatt O’Brian Evans
It’s purple month! Now, you may be wondering, “What’s that?” Allow me to explain. You see, we wear purple — actually, a purple ribbon — to honor victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence and abuse, generally referred to as intimate partner violence and abuse (IPV/A), including in the LGBTQ community. October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
This year I’ve written an in-depth, multi-part series on IPV/A entitled “It’s (Just) the Way That I Love You: Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse in Same-Sex Relationships.” As I stated in the series:
Statistics show that this form of abuse occurs with similar frequency in same-sex relationships and heterosexual relationships. Additionally, new research suggests that a greater percentage of LGBTQ individuals than previously thought is living in fear of an abusive partner. Check out these estimates: Each year, between 50,000 and 100,000 lesbians and as many as 500,000 gay men are battered by a partner. About one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships is abusive in some way, about the same as in heterosexual relationships.
In observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I want to share with you how this observance came to be, and how it’s grown. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect battered women?s advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became a special week when a range of activities were conducted at the local, state, and national levels.
These activities were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors but had common themes: mourning those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and connecting those who work to end violence.
In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year the first national toll-free hotline was begun. In 1989 the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress. Such legislation has passed every year since with NCADV providing key leadership in this effort.
In October 1994 NCADV, in conjunction with Ms. Magazine, created the “Remember My Name” project, a national registry to increase public awareness of domestic violence deaths. Since then, NCADV has been collecting information on women who have been killed by an intimate partner and produces a poster each October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, listing the names of those documented in that year.
And according to Creating a Safe Environment (C.A.S.E.):
[On] October 11, 2003, the United States postal Service issued their “Stop Family Violence” stamp. The design of this first class stamp was made by a young girl who expressed her sadness about domestic violence. Profits from the sale of the stamp were transferred to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist domestic violence programs.
Early next year I’ll be conducting national seminars and workshops on IPV/A, this horrific, demoralizing, and potentially life-threatening behavior. I’ll keep you updated.