October is a month that recognizes survivors of breast cancer and domestic violence. A lesser-known awareness campaign, Domestic Violence Awareness Month is equally important to the safety of women who suffer from violence, often silently, in their homes.
National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a time set aside to celebrate the survivors, to mourn those we’ve lost and to increase awareness about the realities of violence against women.
Domestic violence affects women of all ages, education levels and socioeconomic status. On average, three women die in the United States as a result of domestic violence each day and one in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in their life. Young women (age 16 to 24) are at an even higher risk, suffering the highest rates of domestic and sexual violence. In the last year, one in five young women reported being sexually assaulted while they were in college. Women are not even safe from violence at work since homicide is the second leading cause of death for women at work.
Let’s not forget about our nation’s 1.8 million women veterans, who often suffer in silence. Among women veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 20% have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Even some cases go unreported due to the social stigma that often comes with disclosing abuse.
Efforts to end violence against women have been a focus of the White House and the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. From President Obama reauthorizing the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act , giving communities life-saving tools to help identify and treat child abuse or neglect to Vice President Joe Biden launching 1 is 2 Many in September to honor the 17th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act that he authored in 1990.
The Department of Labor is committed to empowering, protecting and supporting women’s self-sufficiency in an effort to leave violence behind for good. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs enforces Executive Order 11246 which prohibits sexual harassment. And most recently, the Women’s Bureau created “Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers” which helps organizations recognize how trauma from military experiences impacts the reintegration process for women veterans. We know there is more work to be done.
In President Obama’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2011 proclamation, he called on all citizens to do their part to teach children about the importance of healthy, non-violent relationships. It is time we come together as a community to help stop the violence by becoming role models for the next generation. Together we can build communities of non-violence and prevent future violence.
Let’s break the cycle of silence on domestic violence and give a voice to women – and all victims. Learn more about the Women’s Bureau and our priorities by visiting our website at www.dol.gov/wb/ .
Sara Manzano-Díaz is Director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.