The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence declared the first Domestic Violence Awareness month in 1981 as a time for advocates across the nation to unite to end violence against women and children.
Margie Harris, executive director at the Family Crisis Center in Rexburg, said that even though October is the nationally-designated awareness month for domestic abuse, it is something that should be practiced year-round.
“We want and need public awareness so that everyone can help stop the abuse in its tracks,” Harris said. “That way we can help those that have been affected reach out and get the help they need.”
Agencies like the Family Crisis Center are available to help victims when abuse occurs and encourage those who have been affected to speak out.
“We need to work toward a social change, creating compassionate communities so that victims can feel safe and sported with their decisions,” Harris said.
Harris said Rexburg needs the public to become more aware of domestic violence, that way citizens can help dodge violence cases in the future.
“If we teach kids and teenagers about domestic violence now, that way they can become more aware of it and more able to recognize the danger of the abuse,” Harris said. “That is why this month’s awareness is so important: because people are unaware and uneducated of what is happening.”
There are multiple organizations hat want to help those suffering from abuse.
Safe Horizon is the largest organization helping victims of crime and abuse in the United States.
According to the Safe Horizon website, women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
The survivors of domestic violence face high rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks and other emotional distress.
Every year, more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes.
Captain Randy Lewis of the Rexburg Police Department said domestic violence affects the life and wellness of a community and injures, kills and breaks families.
Lewis said the Rexburg Police Department has dealt with many serous situations involving domestic abuse.
“Domestic violence is not a little thing,” Lewis said. “People do get hurt, and families do get broken , so common knowledge of domestic violence and how to get help is crucial. If there is any unlawful touching against anyone, there needs to be appropriate action taken. We’re here to provide safety to whoever needs it.”
Lewis said the Rexburg Police Department intervenes and helps those who have been abused get the help they need.
“We work to try and make everyone more aware of what happens,” Lewis said. “That way we can try and recognize and stop the violence before it’s happened.”
Harris said the real purpose of Domestic Violence Awareness month is to protect those affected.
“Everyone has the right to be happy and safe, and nobody has the right to hurt anyone else,” Harris said.