Did you know that October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month? Did you know that the ribbon for preventing domestic violence is purple? Did you see any purple ribbons this October? You probably saw a lot of pink ribbons. While breast cancer is a very serious issue that deserves the amount of attention it gets, we shouldn’t forget that domestic violence is just as serious and effects even more people. Unfortunately, domestic violence is a rarely discussed topic on our culture. It is often misunderstood, and it’s hard for most people to admit that they are in an abusive relationship.

The silence surrounding domestic violence is perhaps one of the many reasons it continues to be so prevalent. Many people may not even completely understand what domestic violence is. In simple terms, domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior where one person uses control over another as a way to diminish them or their ability to act freely as their own person. It does not matter why a person is abusive to another individual; it is unacceptable and needs to be stopped.

Let this Domestic Violence Awareness Month be the beginning of your commitment not to turn you’re a blind eye to a situation where a man, woman, or child is suffering from domestic abuse. And please, if you are currently in an abusive relationship make a commitment to getting help. Here are four quick steps that I hope you find helpful:

1. Everyone deserves a home that is a peaceful and safe place where everyone can live in peace and be allowed to grow spiritually and emotionally. There should be a zero tolerance policy with regards to domestic abuse. Zero tolerance does not have to mean one infraction and you kick the offender out for good – it means having a plan and a commitment to sticking with that plan.

We cannot simply say that we want to create a peaceful home if we did not grow up in one. Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Often we need outside support to ensure that we do not repeat any of the behaviors that we witnessed and experienced growing up in abusive and dysfunctional homes. Whether or not the person who is struggling with being abusive is on board with the plan – stick to the plan!

2. Get help - whether you are the one being abused, or the one doing the abuse, just get help! Most people who are abusive do not want to be so. Many abusers are acting out of trauma and have little to no awareness or understanding of why they behave the way they do. Remember though, regardless of the reasons why, abuse is unacceptable and must stop.

3. If the way you are being treated in an intimate relationship is making you uncomfortable seek additional information and support to understand what you are experiencing. As soon as you sense that something is not right – listen to your instincts. Talk to someone. Get some help. The longer the cycle of violence continues the more difficult it will be to get help or intervene.

4. Move beyond the narrow description of domestic violence being about battering. Domestic violence can be so much more than physical violence. Verbally threatening someone, using your body size to intimidate or keep them from being able to move freely, kicking doors or punching walls are just some other examples of abusive behavior. Educate yourself and be informed. Remember, pay attention to your gut- if something does not feel okay to you get some help!

Author's Bio: 

Dan Griffin, M.A., has worked in the mental health and addictions field for over 16 years. He is author of A Man’s Way Through the Twelve Steps and co-author of the groundbreaking trauma informed curriculum, Helping Men Recover, which looks comprehensively and holistically at men’s needs and issues in recovery, including issues such as domestic violence awareness. To get a free excerpt from his book and his curriculum, go to http://www.dangriffin.com.