October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, marking a time for all of us to think deeply about how domestic violence affects individuals, families and our entire community.

The Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence is an organization serving Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties. It operates a 24-hour hotline, 1-800-927-4673, and offers shelter, counseling and other services for those caught in the cycle of domestic abuse. Jeanne Yeager is the executive director.

Yeager wrote in a statement about the importance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, how it began with a Day of Unity in 1981, growing into a week of raising awareness and ultimately being recognized as a monthlong designation by Congress in 1989.

“So, this time every year, in an effort to raise awareness of the negative impact of domestic violence on individuals, families, and communities, there is an increased sharing of personal accounts of victims and statistics,” Yeager wrote.

She provided the following statistics: an average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States; 9.4% of high school students reported being hit, slapped or physically hurt intentionally by their partner in the previous 12 months; and 40% of child abuse victims also report experiencing domestic violence.

Those statistics are stark reminders of the prevalence of domestic violence throughout the country.

Yeager also points to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that domestic violence costs a survivor $103,767 for women and $23,414 for men over the course of their lifetime.

“Since 2020 has been filled with so many challenges and harsh realities, this year, Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence has decided that instead of just sharing the cruel realities of this community disease, we are going to share the successes experienced,” Yeager wrote.

She said 440 people contacted the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence for help. She said of those who contacted the organization’s hotline, 86% received counseling, 88% took advantage of followup services and 38% had an advocate by their side in court.

“And while the COVID pandemic and quarantine brought out the worst in abusers, with the rates of domestic violence sharply rising while victims felt trapped in their homes, it also brought out the best in our community members,” Yeager wrote.

She highlighted allied community members, businesses, government agencies and schools that helped spread the word about the support available through Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence and additional organizations including For All Seasons and agencies like county health departments.

For Yeager, success stories come in the form of a new home purchased by a survivor of domestic abuse and the reunion of a survivor and their child who had to leave the home for safety. The successes are reflected in new jobs survivors were able to get after receiving training, the first nights of safe sleep and the friendships reclaimed after being isolated by an abuser, Yeager wrote.

“So in this year of anxiety and uncertainty, let’s celebrate all the successes more than we deliberate the failures. Let’s remember the people we lost while cheering on those that have found their safe futures. Let’s commit to continuing our work together well beyond this National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, until relational violence of all forms is no more and all victims are empowered to become self-sufficient survivors,” Yeager wrote and we agree with her.

Reach out to the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence, For All Seasons and health departments for help, be it for yourself or for someone you know who needs it. Learn more at www.mscfv.org.

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