Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) evolved from the "Day of Unity" held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national level. The activities conducted were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors but had common themes:
These three themes remain a key focus of DVAM events today. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year marks the initiation of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline. In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Such legislation has passed every year since with NCADV providing key leadership in this effort. Each year, the Day of Unity is celebrated the first Monday of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
—Adapted from the 1996 Domestic Violence Awareness Month Resource Manual of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
For far too long, domestic violence was ignored or treated as a private matter where victims were left to suffer in silence without hope of intervention. As we mark the 18th anniversary of the landmark Violence Against Women Act, authored by Vice President Joe Biden, we reflect on how far we have come. We have made significant progress in changing laws and attitudes, providing support to survivors, and reducing the incidence of domestic violence. But we also know that we have not come far enough, and that there is more work left to be done. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we stand with all those who have been affected by this terrible crime, recognize the individuals and groups who have stepped forward to break the cycle of violence, and recommit to putting an end to domestic violence in America.
Read the full proclamation by President Barack Obama, released on October 1, 2012.