October – fall is in the air, leaves are turning, and without a doubt we notice pink everywhere. For October is widely known for being breast cancer awareness month but those who work with survivors of family violence this month is also known as domestic violence awareness month, therefore bring on the purple. During this time, advocates and survivors are asked to appear and present on the subject matter; vigils take place around the country to remember those who have passed away and honor those have survived the trauma in their lives. .
Domestic/Intimate/Family Violence, however you label it, does not only have an impact on a primary victim. The ripples created by this crime and unacceptable behavior can be felt by family, friends, and even those in a community. Unfortunately, it is an epidemic in were a cure will not be discovered in a medical lab with scientists and/or doctors in white coats. It starts with each one of us! Our voice can be a powerful instrument in creating changes. We can help define appropriate behavior and hold accountable those who mistreat, disrespect, and hurt someone else. There is no excuse for violence, this crime does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone!
As a Latina advocate, I have heard reasons of why the abuse happens, why we tolerated even excuse it. A recent study of 800 Latinas conducted by Casa De Esperanza and No Mas (No More) illustrated how Latinas perceive the cause of domestic violence e in the home: 1) alcohol and drug abuse, 2) lack of good parenting and education, and 3) lack of respect among the genders. Nonetheless, we as a community are also taking action by addressing the issue. The good news is that the same study also showed 60% of Latinas “are willing to get involved in efforts to address domestic violence and sexual assault” – willing to speak up and break the cycle.
It is imperative to speak about the components of what makes a healthy/unhealthy/abusive relationships. We may think we do not know anyone or this does not affect me, but the studies show one in three women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, therefore there is a great probability you do know someone who has been or is going through an abusive relationship. Remember, the warnings signs are not always visible. Abuse is not only manifest through physical abuse, but psychological/emotional, sexual, and even financial abuse. Each of these types of abuse has multiple ways of taking place. From being slapped in the face, to being belittles constantly or threaten, to being deprived of any financial stability to stand. Therefore, having conversations about the dynamics but more important speaking up against these unacceptable behaviors of an unhealthy/abusive relationship should take part all year around.
In the state of Georgia, from October 2014 to September 24th 2015, 90 lives were lost to family violence crime. The youngest victims were two 7 years-old and the oldest 78 years-old. At Ser Familia, we have been honoring those who have passed away for the last four years in our annual “Walking among us ~ Now & Forever”, vigil. The vigil incorporates the “El Dia de los Muertos” (The Day of the Dead) principles to connect the Hispanic community. Our survivors are of Latino heritage and this event is completely bilingual. This was the first Domestic Violence Vigil and Awareness Event in the state of Georgia geared towards the Latino community. Join us, October 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Atlanta. Learn the facts. Stop the Myths. Speak Up.
 Casa de Esperanza: http://nationallatinonetwork.org/en-blog/the-no-mas-study-new-infographic/
 Georgia Coalition against Domestic Violence and The Georgia Commission on Family Violence Media Watch.