National Domestic Violence Awareness Month aims to shed light on abuse, advocates urge community members to seek help
DELMARVA, – “When people think of October they think of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The kids might have Fire Safety Awareness Month because the firemen come to their school. There’s so many other things. Domestic Violence is not something people talk about,” said Life Crisis Center’s Karen Hughes.
1 and 3 women and 1 and 5 men are victims of abuse at some point in their lives. As October marks National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, resources like the Life Crisis Center in Salisbury say they’re providing a helping hand through counseling services, a safe house, and a 24-hour hotline.
“In working with the victims, I love to have them learn to find their own voice again. Because they’ve been told they don’t have a voice and aren’t allowed to have a voice,” said Hughes.
Domestic Violence Clinical Services Coordinator, Karen Hughes, has been with the center for 22 years. She says for most, getting to help is easier said than done.
“If I were the victim, I might not tell my mom or my sister. I might not tell until I can’t hide it anymore,” said Hughes.
Mental health experts say the impact of these experiences can be truly life-changing.
“Many find it difficult to move on ahead to a new job, a new relationship, and taking care of their family remains very difficult for a long time,” said Psychologist Dr. Kathy Seifert.
I’m told that trauma isn’t a one size fits all approach.
“For some, it might be a lot of anger and difficulty managing that anger. For somebody else, it may be depression and sadness,” said Dr. Seifert.
Here locally, I’m told cases of reported abuse have risen 30%. That’s why advocates say awareness initiatives like this are important, to start the processing of healing.
“We can only hope that an awareness campaign might be heard by a perpetrator that decides maybe he or she should seek some help,” said Dr. Seifert.
“So if you think of all your neighbors. 1 and 3 at some point in their life or 1 in 5. That’s a lot! People do know folks but they don’t talk about it. So we have to get that awareness out in the community,” said Hughes.
Hughes tells 47 ABC that the rise in cases here locally may be due to the pandemic, as many victims were in isolation with their abusers. Experts also say that men are less likely to report abuse than women but encourage all to seek the help that they need.
If you know someone in need of help or need it yourself, that 24-hour hotline number is 410-749-4357.