During the month of October, organizations and individuals celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month by spreading awareness and advocating for resources for victims.

During the month of October, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and several other organizations help bring awareness to domestic violence and offer support for those affected by domestic violence.

The main goal of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is for people to get involved, take action, promote advocacy and create change. You can help make domestic violence less common and provide more resources for survivors.

The History of DVAM

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is the evolution of a single day of awareness in October 1981 called the “Day of Unity.” The goal was to connect advocates across the country who were helping women and children suffering as a result of domestic violence. The single day soon became a week devoted to activities at every level of government. Because these activities were taking place all over the country, the programs were diverse with common themes that included:

  • Mourning individuals who had died at the hand of domestic violence
  • Celebrating the survivors of domestic violence
  • Creating connections for advocates who want to end domestic violence

Domestic Violence & Substance Abuse

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors — whether physical, sexual or psychological — to gain, maintain or regain control or the upper hand in a relationship. The assaulter may use a number of strategies to blame, humiliate, terrorize, hurt, injure, manipulate and possibly even kill a current or former partner.

Domestic violence’s pervasiveness and complexity mean that anyone — regardless of age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or social standing — can be a victim. Domestic violence and substance use disorders are often linked and can occur simultaneously. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, physical violence is 11 times more likely when a person has heavily misused substances like drugs or alcohol compared to someone who is sober.

DVAM in the Age of COVID-19

The stay-at-home orders and economic uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has experts worriedabout increases in domestic violence and reduced access to community resources. Now more than ever, raising awareness for domestic violence victims and advocating for resources are vital goals for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. With this in mind, there are many ways to spread the word and help victims:

  • Donate to a worthy organization. The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and state and territory coalitions for domestic violence are two excellent examples. 
  • Start a conversation about domestic violence awareness and advocacy with family, friends, neighbors or co-workers. Make sure those around you know the facts about domestic violence, and challenge myths or false information you hear.
  • Get involved with your local, state and federal government. Advocating for legislation for support and resources for domestic violence survivors and victims can make a change. Sign up to receive updates and alerts from NNEDV, engage with your representatives to ask them how they support survivors, and make sure you’re registered to vote
  • Speak out about domestic violence on social media using the hashtags #PowerUp for #DVAM2020, or write a letter to your local newspaper about how domestic violence affects your community.
  • Consider depictions of domestic violence. Host a movie night with a feature that highlights domestic violenceand have a discussion about the themes of the film, or join NNEDV’s online book club.
  • Wear the color purple to show support for survivors and victims of domestic violence. You can share photos or selfies on social media using the hashtag #DVAM2020. 
  • Attend a virtual event during the DVAM Week of Action, October 18 through October 24.

Getting Help

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, you’re never beyond help — learn how to get out of a dangerous situation by calling one of these hotlines:

It’s also important to remember that if you’re an assaulter or victim, substances aren’t the answers to the problem. If you or someone you know struggles with a substance use disorder as a result of domestic violence, The Recovery Village can help find treatment. Take action and call our representatives to discuss what programs could work for you.

a woman wearing glasses and a blazer.
Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “#PowerUp Toolkit.” Accessed September 25, 2020.

Soper, Richard. “Intimate Partner Violence and Co-Occurring Substance Abuse/Addiction.” American Society of Addiction Medicine, October 6, 2014. Accessed September 25, 2020.

National Network to End Domestic Violence. “Week of Action 2020.” Accessed September 25, 2020.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Intimate Partner Violence and Child A[…]ons During COVID-19.” Accessed September 25, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.