From Awareness to Understanding: How ICADV is re-centering Domestic Violence Awareness Month

We have often used Domestic Violence Awareness Month as a time to share statistics and imagery to illustrate that domestic violence is a serious problem. This played an important role in the early days of our movement: we were able to help people acknowledge the problem at a time where many people failed to acknowledge domestic violence and its severity.

Almost half a century has passed since the very beginning of this movement, and knowledge and discussion of domestic violence has entered the mainstream. We are going to take this opportunity to pivot towards a new message: one that is centered in needs survivors have expressed to us.

We know 42.5 percent of Hoosiers are experiencing some form of gender-based violence (43.4 percent of those who identify as women and 27.9 percent of those who identify as men). We honor those who have lost loved ones. But we also recognize that when we link domestic violence directly with deadly incidents, we are minimizing what a majority of survivors are experiencing on a daily basis.

In the Re-Centering Report, survivors told us they need our messaging surrounding domestic violence to focus on helping survivors connect with resources, and decreasing judgment in the community. They told us loudly and clearly that awareness strategies that focus on injury and death feel triggering/traumatizing for them.

That’s why we are “re-branding” Domestic Violence Awareness Month to a more hopeful (and helpful) alternative – Domestic Violence Prevention Month.

We will continue specific, survivor-centered awareness strategies, like spreading the word about all of the resources available to survivors, from shelter, to financial security, to criminal record expungement, but we also want to make it clear we are doing something new.

This month, we will focus on the ways we all can create safe, stable, nurturing, nonjudgmental communities where everyone can thrive, and violence doesn’t feel like an easy or appropriate choice.

We encourage you to join us in focusing on strategies that encourage community members to support survivors in their neighborhoods, congregations and workplaces. When we create environments that accept people’s whole selves, we are working to eliminate violence.

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