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October is normally associated with pumpkin lattes and debates about Halloween costumes. But it’s also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In the midst of our fall festivities, it’s important for us to take some time to think about what we’re doing to help. I’m using my vote this November to stand up for all victims of domestic violence. This is our month to honor the lives lost and to offer resources to the survivors. It’s also a time to look forward and think about what we’re doing to make things better.
One in 4 women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. Look around you when you’re at your office or when you go get coffee — how many women around you may have experienced domestic violence that you don’t even know about? Think about it. Who’s lucky enough to have gotten out? Who’s still suffering? Who’s been too afraid to tell her friends and family for fear of being looked down upon, pitied, or doubted? I don’t like to think about the answers, but as an advocate, I know we have to. We need to be fighting year-round to make sure all victims of domestic violence are given the support and resources they deserve.
So far this year, Congress has failed to pass an inclusive Violence against Women Act (VAWA). That means more victims are left vulnerable and unprotected. That means there are no provisions in place to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender victims. There are no protections for immigrant and Native American women. College campuses may not be putting in place the protections that they need to protect students. It is unacceptable. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a time to remember, but it’s also a time to fight. Learn more about VAWA, and contact your elected officials to tell them why it’s important to you.
Shortly after Domestic Violence Awareness Month ends, we’ll be going to the polls to vote on November 6. These two events may not seem like they’re closely related, but I can say that they definitely are. My vote will help support politicians who are willing to fight for domestic violence victims. My vote will be for senators and representatives who are going to pass an inclusive Violence against Women Act. My vote will help make sure that there are state representatives who will ensure all victims are supported. After all, my mom, grandmother, cousins, aunts, and friends could depend on those services one day. Maybe some of them already have, and I don’t even know about it.
The AAUW Action Fund has resources available to help you learn where your politicians stand on violence against women. The VoteHER Toolkit is especially designed to help you make informed decisions when you go to the polls in November. With the Congressional Voting Record and voter guides, you can compare how your elected representatives have voted on these important issues. You deserve to have all the facts when you go to vote.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is another reminder of why voting is so important. I’ve told you my reasons, and you can check out one of our pep talk videos for more inspiration, like this one from former AAUW staffer Dawn Aldrich, for more inspiration.
When I vote, I’m voting for all victims of violence. I’m voting for every victim who won’t have the chance to vote. I’m voting for all of the women who will be too afraid to go out and vote on November 6 and for those whose abuse was fatal. I hope you’ll do the same.
This post is part of the YWCA Week Without Violence blog carnival on issues of violence in all forms. We invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story on your blog or website, and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #ywcaWWV.
This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Dani Nispel.