October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is now in its 30th year and Wednesday October 4, 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of Women Against Abuse’s ‘I Pledge …’ campaign bringing awareness and connections to community services in Philadelphia during October.
Since 2004, almost 2,000 people have been killed in domestic violence incidents in Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia alone, there are over 100,000 calls to the police department for domestic violence and relational violence incidents. These calls encompass all kinds of violence and abuse between partners and within families.
Three women are killed every day in intimate partner violence, and women of color are disproportionately affected by this. Nearly 30% of all African American females are victimized by a partner in their lifetime. That is a rate over two times higher than the rate domestic violence affects any other race in America. Homicide is the leading cause of death for women under the age of 44, according to a report by the CDC, and over half of those are at the hands of a former or current intimate partner.
These crimes against women, and especially women of color, unfortunately do not get the attention in society or the media that they deserve. When a man kills a woman with whom he has an intimate relationship, the average sentence is 2 to 6 years in prison. When a woman kills an intimate partner, the average sentence is 15 years. These disparities must be addressed.
Domestic violence incidents even make law enforcement vulnerable as well. Domestic violence incidents are the most dangerous for responding police officers and a study of law enforcement officer deaths from 2010-2014 by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund found more officers were killed responding to domestic violence calls than in any other response to dispatched calls for service, including robbery and burglary.
Domestic violence is often left out of public conversations on violence, maintaining the stigma of such violence. Worldwide studies of domestic violence reporting indicate that coverage of domestic violence furthers this stigma and misunderstanding about the seriousness of violence against women. Fortunately, there are tremendous organizations in Philadelphia like Concilio, Congresso de Latinos Unidos, Women Against Abuse, Women In Transition, and now Shared Safety, working together to reduce domestic violence in Philadelphia. Creating these new shared connections between services for those experiencing relational violence in Philadelphia is imperative to keeping all of Philadelphia safe.
“Awareness and knowledge are power,” Beth said after attending today’s ‘I Pledge…’ event, “and I encourage everyone to speak up against domestic violence throughout Philadelphia. Become educated and, if someone you know is being subjected to domestic violence, refer them to the resources available in Philadelphia. We must fight domestic violence together.”
Events related to Domestic Violence Awareness Month continue throughout the city all month and on October 5th Philadelphians can show their support by wearing purple for the ‘Paint Philly Purple’ day.