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DV2Many women experiencing domestic violence suffer in silence.  October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the opportunity to shine the light on a public health issue impacting millions of people in America.  Women experiencing domestic violence no longer need to suffer in silence; always remember that you are NOT alone.

Domestic violence includes a wide range of behaviors in which one individual is using power and control to manipulate another individual. This may include verbal, financial, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. Domestic violence occurs in heterosexual, as well as same-sex partnerships, and crosses all ethnic, racial and socio-economic lines.

There are many terms that can be used to describe domestic violence – including intimate partner violence, partner abuse, family violence, etc. – but it is important to remember that domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behavior, not just one single act. Arguments and disagreements are a normal part of healthy, respectful and equal relationships, as long as violence/abuse or even the threat of it is not present.

Violence/abuse affects all aspects of the victim’s life and creates an imbalance of power and control in a relationship. When the term “dispute” or even “fight” is used to describe domestic violence, responsibility is shifted from the perpetrator to both parties involved. This in turn creates an inaccurate depiction of how serious a situation can be. It’s never acceptable when one person tires to control the thoughts, beliefs, or actions of a partner, friend, or any other person close to them.

There are many organizations in the Commonwealth assisting families experiencing domestic violence.  These programs offer emergency shelter or transitional housing but they also offer non-residential assistance and services.  You do not have to leave an abusive partner to receive services from one of these agencies.  These programs can provide counseling, legal advocacy, children’s support groups, and other services to people who may not want to leave and recognize that that is a personal decision.

It is important for everyone to learn more about domestic violence and provide support in a non-judgmental manner. Get involved by joining local and community efforts to bring the issue to the forefront and become part of the solution to ending domestic violence.

For 24-hour support, contact the MA Statewide Toll-Free Domestic Violence Hotline – SAFELINK at 1-877-785-2020.

For more information on domestic violence/partner abuse, please visit http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/community-health/dvip/violence/, http://www.janedoe.org/, and http://www.mass.gov/eopss/crime-prev-personal-sfty/personal-sfty/sexual-and-dom-viol/.

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Health and Human Service Coordinator

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