Domestic Violence Awareness Month began as a “Day of Unity” in October of 1981 created by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). In 1987, “Day of Unity” evolved into the observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, created to “connect and unite individuals and organizations working on domestic violence issues while raising awareness for those issues.”


In 1989, a congressional resolution was passed to officially honor National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The official color for Domestic Violence Awareness Month is purple.


Domestic violence is defined as a “pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner” (United Nations). 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience domestic violence in their life time and an average of 20 people are abused by partners per minute (NTCSN). Additionally, people who are trans or non-binary experience domestic violence at a heightened rate of over 50% (Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence).


According to the NCADV, signs of abuse include but are not limited to excessive jealousy of family and friends, embarrassment, or shaming, preventing a partner from making their own decisions, stalking, intimidation with weapons, and pressuring into drugs, alcohol, or sex. For more information on signs of abuse, you can access the NCADV website here


To be an ally to those who are victims of domestic violence, NCADV emphasizes the importance of not blaming the victim for staying with an abuser. Often victims fear losing financial support, housing, and child custody if they escape their abuser. If you are a witness to domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) does not recommend physically removing a victim from an abuser, rather, the hotline recommends sharing concerns in a safe, private space without judgement.


Although children can be too young to experience partner violence, exposure to domestic violence in a child’s family can have negative emotional effects on a child (NTCSN). These negative effects can be so severe that it stunts their developmental growth. For example, children who are exposed to domestic violence in the home are more prone to lose the ability to feel empathy, feel socially isolated, and struggle to make friends (Children’s Bureau). Furthermore, there is a strong psychological impact. According to Psychology Today, the psychological impacts on children who are exposed to domestic violence can include fear of abandonment, guilt, lying, shame, worry or sadness, and fear of the future (Edwards, 2019). As a result of these effects, many states have taken initiative in extending legal protection to children who may be harmed by witnessing domestic violence in their home.


The balance between addressing domestic violence and child abuse can create tensions between the two systems. Some parents may fear coming forward to escape such violence out of a concern they might risk losing their child. There are approximately 16 states in which, if domestic violence is committed in front of a child, it can result in a harsher penalty.

Additionally, there are five states, where committing domestic violence in front of a child is a separate crime that can be charged independently (CB).


For anonymous confidential help 24/7, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-747-3224 (TTY) or text START to 88788

National Domestic Violence Hotline Intervention Tips

National Domestic Violence Hotline tips on supporting children: