October Recognizes the Basic Right to Live a Life that Is Free of Violence and Abuse

“Domestic violence impacts women, men, and children of every age, background, and belief. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we reaffirm our dedication to forging an America where no one suffers the hurt and hardship that domestic violence causes -- and we recommit to doing everything in our power to uphold the basic human right to be free from violence and abuse.”—Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation, 2015

During October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) urges us to wear and feature the color purple as a way to tell others why ending domestic violence is important to us. We are invited to join the NNEDV's National #PurpleThursday thunderclap on October 22.

My experience with domestic violence comes from reading police reports during my years as a reporter. It's sad that these reports represent the tip of an iceberg, that for every incident that is reported, there are numerous incidents that are not reported and for every name listed in a report, there are countless others affected.

Police officers and emergency medical and health care workers respond to these crises every day and go over and above the call of duty. Police do what they can to assist the victims, sort out the facts, make temporary provisions for children and pets and arrest the perpetrators, but it doesn't end there, or in the courts or the prisons.

Domestic violence exhausts our first response systems and burdens courts and corrections facilities. According to the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, the cost of domestic violence to the U.S. economy is more than $8.3 billion in medical care, mental health services and lost productivity.

Perhaps the most important information to convey is that there is help available, that the situation is not hopeless and that you don't have to endure abuse or wait until you face a crisis requiring a 911 call. If you or someone you know is involved in a relationship that feels abusive, begin by breaking the silence. Reach out—to ask for help or offer it.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE 1.800.787.3224 (TTY) ,

To search for help in your language and nearest to you, go to Domestic Shelters.org.

For expert advice and resources to help you or someone you love, consult Belleruth's blog post Tips & Tools to Counter Domestic Violence.

To learn about the incidence of traumatic brain injury among victims of domestic violence, check out Belleruth's blog post It's not Just Soldiers and Athletes who Get Hit in the Head.

During October and year-round, we are encouraged to get involved. Volunteer, donate, join celebrities, athletes, corporate leaders and other advocates. To find out how you can help, contact the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org.

Tell us your stories. As always, we love hearing from you and we welcome your feedback. Happy October from your friends at Health Journeys.

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