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Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness month was originally started in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across the country.

According to the CDC, 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Think about how many people you know. Chances are even if you don’t ‘know,’ you know someone who has been a victim of domestic or dating violence. I know that I certainly do.

In Pennsylvania, 112 people were killed as a result of domestic violence last year.

According to the YWCA of Northcentral PA, “Domestic violence affects millions of people every year. That includes men and women, of every race, every religion, every culture, and every status. It can be physical, emotional, financial, and/or sexual/reproductive.” Other examples of abuse include:

• Yelling
• Humiliation
• Stalking
• Manipulation,
• Coercion
• Threats
• Isolation

It’s stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, constant use of the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it.

Knowing if someone you care about is in an abusive situation can be very difficult, but there are some common warning signs:

• Their partner puts them down in front of other people
• They are constantly worried about making their partner angry
• They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
• Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive
• They have unexplained marks or injuries
• They’ve stopped spending time with friends and family
• They are depressed or anxious, or you notice changes in their personality

Abusers are skilled at using power and control over their victims, which can make leaving the situation difficult and dangerous. One of the best ways to help someone in abusive situation is to listen to them and support them. Try to help the person you care about feel empowered. Leave the decision making up to them. Help them understand that they are not responsible for, nor do they deserve the abuse. Encourage them to seek the help of an advocate at their local domestic violence program.

Wise Options at the YWCA is not only a shelter for those in need, but they have the resources to help people get back on their feet and stay safe. They are able help file Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders, assist in court accompaniment and other legal services. Importantly, they also have counselors and case managers that work with clients on a daily basis to see that they are getting the help they need.

The YWCA offers a lot of much needed help for those who need helping leaving an abusive situation, including:

Emergency shelter: which is open 24/7 for individuals experiencing domestic violence. They can stay in a safe and supportive place for 30 days.

Legal Services: legal advocates are available to the public to assist clients with the process of filing for a PFA and other court-related proceedings. The YWCA hold your hand every step of the way.

Counseling: available to the public to work with children and adults who have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence or other violent crimes. It is extremely difficult to leave an abusive situation without support, so knowing that the YWCA has counseling services ready to help can go a long way towards taking the first step. Going along with that, they also offer support groups which can make you feel less alone as you work on recovery.

For the last few years, the YWCA has hung purple flags in Downtown Williamsport to raise awareness that domestic violence happens, and it happens in our very community. Attached to these flags are small cards with a name, photo, date of birth and the day they died. These were victims at various stages of their lives. Some were children, barely starting their lives. Some are older. But they were all residents of Lycoming County.

Sadly, every year, they have to add new names to the list. And every year, it makes them a little sadder. Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. Now is time to take a stand. Support survivors and speak out against domestic violence all month long. Wear purple to show you won’t stand for any more deaths from violence. And remember the names of those who have passed away.

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