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Is "Awareness" of Domestic Violence Good Enough This Month?

How to back up well-meaning ‘slacktivism’ with action

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In 2015, The Atlantic published a piece called “What Good is ‘Raising Awareness’?” They brought to light several good points: While the number of awareness days is on the rise—the U.S. has almost 200 health awareness days and counting and there are almost just as many causes to be aware of monthly, according to Wikipedia—there is a lack of research as to whether or not awareness days do much good for the cause beyond giving people a bandwagon to jump onto. 

Writes the article’s author Julie Beck, “Social media activism … often amplifies the voices of the marginalized. On the other hand, changing your profile picture for an awareness day … might just be the smallest possible unit of support for a cause. If not backed up by money or deed, it’s little more than lip service.”

But the article points out, “slacktivism,” or the passive way of raising awareness, isn’t all bad. It makes people feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, a community, and makes them happy.

That’s a start.

But what really needs to go hand-in-hand with just saying there’s a problem is changing the issue that causes the problem. As author and psychologist Lori Day wrote in her #YourVoice piece, “Philanthropy Isn’t Always Sexy” for DomesticShelters in 2016, “Doing domestic violence work is very expensive [but] … fundraising for domestic violence is not glamorous.”

If we were to borrow a phrase from our troops, it means boots on the ground are needed. Talking about domestic violence, as we do on this site, is important. But during this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, consider taking it a step further. That might mean making a donation, volunteering, calling one of your local politicians to lobby for changes in the law or organizing your own, unique project that you think will motivate others to do more than change their profile pic. 

Make a Donation

It is easy to ignore this message. Please don't. We and the millions of people who use this non-profit website to prevent and escape domestic violence rely on your donations. A gift of $5 helps 25 people, $20 helps 100 people and $100 helps 500 people. Please help keep this valuable resource online.

Below, we have a few ideas for you:

  1. Take the Pledge. From Thread Talk comes this pledge to stand up to those things which contribute to our rape culture, one that perpetuates domestic violence. Pledge to stand up to people who tell sexist and degrading jokes, to lead the conversation about healthy relationships, and more. 
  2. Volunteer! Plug in your zip code at DomesticShelters.org to find shelters and domestic violence agencies in your area. 
  3. Collect Donations. Domestic violence survivors who leave an abuser often have little more than the clothes on their backs. Donations of household goods, uniforms, toys and small appliances can make a big difference. Check with your local shelter to see how you can help or shop via the Wish Lists on DomesticShelters.org.
  4. Write a Check. That’s old-school, but you know what we mean. Many shelters and agencies run on shoestring budgets. Even a small donation can make a big difference. You can even donate to DomesticShelters.org and your donation will fund advocacy efforts that reach across the country. 
  5. Become an ambassador. Programs like Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence are looking for ambassadors that can drive more awareness and support to their advocacy efforts. 
  6. Write an op-ed or editorial raising awareness about domestic violence for your local newspaper. 
  7. Thank community members who are working to end domestic violence. Maybe the local shelter staff needs a coffee and donut delivery.
  8. Share articles from DomesticShelters.org on social media. Not sure what to share? How about one of these pieces on Identifying Abuse, which may help someone realize that what they’re experiencing is abuse. 
  9. Educate yourself. Would you know if a friend was being abused? By the time bruises appear, abuse may have been going on for years. Know the warning signs
  10. Donate cell phones, batteries and accessories to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or SecuretheCall which provides phones to domestic violence survivors and funds to agencies that help them. 
  11. Download a tool kit. They contain everything you need to start raising awareness—and more!—and help end violence. Here are 5 to start with.
  12. Hold silent witness exhibitpurple lights night or clothesline project to raise awareness of domestic violence in your community. 
  13. Organize a bra drive. Survivors at domestic violence shelters are in desperate need of bras and feminine products, as one woman found out. Join her efforts to help get survivors what they need. 
  14. Share the stories of survivors who are thriving on your social media accounts. 
  15. Attend local events. Find events near you on our DomesticShelters Events Page.