October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which first started in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to join mistreated women’s advocates across the country. UND’s sorority, Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy is to raise awareness and educating others about domestic violence. They play a big role when it comes to spreading awareness. One way that Alpha Chi Omega celebrates the awareness of domestic violence is by having a “Healthy Relationships Week.” The main goal of Healthy Relationships Week is to develop healthy relationships and, in turn, prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. This week traditionally concentrates on encouraging individuals to break down the definition of love and what it means to them through the Love Is… campaign. Healthy Relationships Week is celebrated in the month of February near Valentine’s Day. Along with Healthy Relationships Week, Alpha Chi Omega provides many educational programs to raise awareness. A few of the programs are “Let’s Talk Love,” “Not Anymore” and Programs with Purpose. These programs are designed to educate men and women on how to recognize domestic violence and ultimately end it.
Domestic violence may be off your radar, but it is definitely happening in our world today. According to liveyourdream.org, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and with that, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.
Since 1994, when the Violence Against Women Act passed, the awareness for it has come a long way. This revolutionary legislation, led by then Senator Joe Biden, joined new provisions that hold offenders accountable and offer programs and services for victims. Between 1993 and 2010, the overall rate of domestic violence dropped almost two-thirds and state laws
have transformed to address issues such as dating abuse in the workplace, stalking, employment discrimination and more. Domestic violence affects millions of people, both men and women of every race, religion, culture and status. It is not just physical, bruises and black eyes- it is yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It is stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, consistently using the silent treatment, or calling someone awful names so often that they start to believe it. According to wadvocates.org, Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. There are many different programs and organizations available that support this month in raising awareness against domestic violence abuse, one being called “Break the Cycle.” Break the Cycle encourages and supports young people ranging from 12 – 24 to build healthy relationships with one another and create a culture without abuse. Their mission is to encourage and inform that “everyone has a right to a safe and healthy relationship, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexual identity. We work every day to make that right a reality.” If seeking help or wanting to raise awareness about domestic violence, reaching out to UND’s sorority, Alpha Chi Omega is available to offer services. Their advisor, Kay Powell, can be reached at [email protected]