I have worked with thousands of survivors of domestic violence, who experienced incredible pain and turmoil in their journey to safety and freedom. But, I have found that the most distraught people I talk with are often not the survivors themselves, but their friends and family -- who are often plagued with anger, guilt, and confusion.
October is the month of fall, football, and domestic violence (DV). Although the first DV Awareness Month was established In October of 1987, unfortunately a disturbing video of a football star has provoked more public discourse on domestic violence than the longstanding efforts of government agencies and non-profits.
Studies show as many as 48 percent of people in abusive situations stay out of concern for their pets' safety, and more than 70 percent of pet owners entering shelters report their batterer had threatened, injured or killed their pets. But despite this issue, most domestic violence shelters only take humans -- no pets are allowed.
Leaving a relationship is not something that happens in a vacuum and it is not always the safest or best option for victims of domestic violence. We owe it to them to figure out something better than "why don't you just leave?" We owe it to victims everywhere to understand the risks battered women face, and the ways women have coped with violence.