During Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), several domestic violence shelter programs across the country will be observing National SAF-T Day, held annually on the first Saturday in October. This national event originated in 2010 as an opportunity for shelters to host a local dog walk or other community event to raise funds to start or sustain an on-site pet housing program and awareness regarding the co-occurrence between animal abuse and domestic violence.
Why is such an initiative so important? Advocates have learned that abusive partners often use the bond between victims and their companion animals to control, manipulate, and isolate their victims. Research indicates that 20 to 65% of domestic violence victims delay leaving a dangerous situation because they don’t know where to place or how to protect their pets. Some survivors return because they fear for the animals’ safety (NRCDV, 2014).
Please read below for ways to increase your understanding of the connection between domestic violence and animal abuse and determine ways you can be involved in helping families with pets who are in dangerous situations.
To assist domestic violence victim advocates and animal rights activists better understand the link between animal abuse and domestic violence, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence has released the Technical Assistance Guidance, Why Pets Mean So Much: The Human-Animal Bond in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence. Developed by the Animal Welfare Institute, this document explores ways that victim advocates can assist survivors of domestic violence and their pets when seeking safety and refuge from abuse.
With increased attention to the connections between animal abuse and domestic violence, advocates may be asked to participate in media interviews. To help advocates stay on message and provide compelling information, the Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP) provides a talking points form, How and why are domestic violence and animal abuse related?, which includes concise and fully cited data.
It is essential to do safety planning for pets, just as it is for the rest of the family. This safety planning brochure lists some important arrangements that families can make for their pets before leaving an abusive situation. Additional recommendations for programs to use during hotline calls and shelter intake are available here.
When a domestic violence shelter is unable to help a family with pets, they are missing an opportunity to help a large segment of their community and end the cycle of violence. Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T) is the first and only global initiative guiding domestic violence shelters on how to house families together with their pets. SAF-T enables more domestic violence victims to leave abusers without leaving their pets behind and at risk. The SAF-T Start-Up Manual and webinar provide helpful guidance and answer advocates questions about how to safely house pets on-site at a domestic violence shelter. With over 60 shelters participating, greater awareness and implementation of SAF-T is needed to help more families.
National SAF-T Day provides a way for domestic violence shelters to raise funds and community support to start an onsite pet housing program. As the national host organization for this event, the SAF-T Program strongly encourages local programs to register their events through their website beginning in September each year. An instructional handout providing guidance and ideas to assist advocates in replicating a SAF-T Day event in their communities is available here.
Every year, approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner. It is also known that 3 in 4 parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence. In light of these alarming facts, every year during the month of February advocates join efforts to raise awareness about dating violence, highlight promising practices, and encourage communities to get involved.
There are many resources available to provide information and support to victims and assist service providers and communities to decrease the prevalence of dating violence among young people. Anyone can make this happen by raising awareness about the issue, saying something about abuse when you see it and organizing your community to make a difference. Take Action!
Did you miss the Call of Unity? A recording of the session can be heard via this link with messages from national leaders, survivors, and advocates, and the dual-voice spoken word poems of ClimbingPoeTREE. The 4th Annual National Call of Unity Summary (Storify) includes links to the inspiring resources that were shared including poetry, prayer, stories, and words of gratitude and hope. View and download the Universal Prayer for use at your October 2013 DVAM Events and beyond!
Everyone knows and cares about an older person at some point in their lives; many of us throughout our entire lives—whether that person is a grandparent, an elderly parent, a mentor or coach, or an older person that has been influential to us in some way. Unfortunately, statistics show that one in ten people age 60 and older are victimized by elder abuse.
The Administration on Aging (AoA) defines elder abuse as any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Please read on (by clicking the link above) for ways to increase your awareness of this crime and determine ways you can be involved in preventing its occurrence.
Organized by the Office on Women’s Health, within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, held annually on March 10th, seeks to raise awareness of the disease’s impact on women and girls, and empower people with the knowledge and tools to make a difference. Listed after the jump are several ways you can be a part of these efforts in your community, state, across the nation, and around the world!
Everyone is impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault either directly or indirectly, but many do not realize it. Now is the time to change that. Our goal this year is to teach men, youth, women — everyone within our communities — how to recognize domestic violence and offer support to speak openly about it.
Every year, UN Women: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women join with Say NO-UNiTE to End Violence Against Women to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. 16 Days of Activism begins on November 25 and continues through December 10 to raise awareness of this devastating issue that knows no bounds and to inspire action to end this pervasive human rights violation across the globe. Their website contains a global policy agenda, activist stories and videos demonstrating the work of their grantees, and 16 Ways to Say NO to Violence Against Women Action Steps.