Tony Award-winning playwright Eve Ensler spoke at last year’s Shine the Light on Domestic Violence event in Times Square. Photo credit: Donna Aceto/courtesy of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.
By the time you finish reading this sentence a woman somewhere in the United States has just been assaulted or beaten by someone she loves. Every 9 seconds, a woman in the U.S. is assaulted or beaten by someone she is intimate with. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. We need to work harder to address this issue.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injuries to women but it does not discriminate. Domestic violence knows no boundaries – it exists across all genders, ages, ethnicities, religions and economic classes. It is about one person trying to gain complete control over their partner and victims are often both physically and emotionally abused.
Domestic violence is linked to numerous health issues that stem from both the physical and mental effects of abuse. Victims of domestic violence are more likely to suffer from hypertension, stroke, heart attacks, depression, PTSD and have higher suicide rates. Women who are abused are more likely to have pregnancy-related health issues, and because of the often accompanying sexual abuse, have higher incidences of STDs and HIV. This isn’t just a public health issue. This is an “everyone” issue.
One in four women and one in seven men will experience some level of domestic abuse in their lifetime. When I look at these statistics and think about how they correlate to the people that I know, that I am related to, work with, am friends with, care about… I wonder how much more this issue must affect my life – all of our lives – than I ever realized. A recent study estimated that the costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking exceed $5.8 billion each year and include nearly $0.9 billion in lost productivity.
The tangible and invisible costs of domestic awareness are too high – we must take action. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and you can do your part to shine the light on domestic violence. You can join the No More campaign to end domestic violence and sexual assault. You can donate women’s and children’s clothing to your neighborhood women’s shelter because many women must leave domestic violence situations with nothing but their children and the clothes on their backs. You can post awareness information on your social media in the hopes that we will talk about this issue and remove the stigma associated with it. I am sure I can do more…what will you do?
This evening, October 7, 2013 at 6:30pm, we have the opportunity to “Shine the Light on Domestic Violence” in Times Square in commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I’ll be there. Will you?
Samantha Kumar contributed to the writing of this article.