As pumpkins start to keep watch over front porches and pumpkin lattes go on sale at coffee shops, we at HOPE Center want to make you aware that it is time to note another significant and much more sobering mark of the season: October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Why devote a month to issues related to domestic violence? In the U.S., a woman is beaten or assaulted by a current or ex-significant other every nine seconds. One in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Perhaps these staggering statistics can help you understand why it is critical to raise awareness of these issues.

The following facts from The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence underscore the prevalence and ramifications of domestic violence in the U.S. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries. A full 20% of victims of intimate partner homicides were not the intimate partners themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders.

There are also very distressing findings in the most recent national census conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence. This data from September, 2018 was compiled from 86% of U.S. domestic violence programs regarding the services they provided during the 24-hour survey period.

On the day of the survey, almost 75,000 individuals — including both adults and children — received critical domestic violence services nationwide. Perhaps just as noteworthy, more than 9,000 requests for services were not met due to a lack of resources. On that day, over 42,000 individuals were provided housing, and more than 30,000 victims received counseling, childcare, courtroom advocacy, and other services. Organizations also provided over a thousand trainings to more than 25,000 people.

During this same 24-hour period, organizations in Minnesota reported significant activity that reflects the severity of domestic violence in our home state. With 87% of the state’s programs responding, the census reported that those programs served more than 2,000 victims that day. Almost 900 of them were provided with housing in emergency shelters or transitional housing. More than 1,100 others received counseling, legal advocacy and support for their children. All in one day! More than 300 additional requests that day were unmet due to a lack of resources.

We should be able to expect that our home lives provide us with support, comfort and a sense of security. These statistics prove that for so many that is just not the case – both nationally and locally. Let us reflect on that during this National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and work to protect those who need our assistance this month and throughout the year.

HOPE Center services include phone support, emergency shelter, counseling, hospital support and legal advocacy. For assistance for yourself or someone else, call our 24-hour Safeline: 800-607-2330. For more information, visit us at hopecentermn.org.

Erica Staab-Absher is executive director of the HOPE Center. Reach the center at 507-332-0882.

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