October 6th marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Already a silent danger in households across the United States, this extended period of stay at home orders, online schooling, and working from home has increased its risk, and importance, more than ever. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NACDV), twenty people per minute are abused by a domestic partner. This equates to a stunning ten million people a year, right here in our reputedly “advanced” United States.
How is domestic violence related to human trafficking? The answer is simple. In 2009, the U.S. State Department cited a 2009 study from London, reporting 70% of women victimized by human trafficking experienced domestic partner abuse before being trafficked. Even worse, sometimes the trafficker themselves originally was the victim’s domestic partner. This illustrates a cycle of abuse often leaving victims hopeless and alone. Women and men in domestic violence situations often lack resources, support, or the ability to remove themselves from dangerous situations; often, leaving their abuser means ending up on the streets.
But ending up on the street is not always a domestic violence victim’s biggest fear. No time is more dangerous to a domestic violence victim than the initial weeks after deciding to leave. The NACDV reports 72% of all murder-suicides involve intimate partners. Leaving is much harder when your life is on the line. As a community, we must empower and enable victims and survivors of domestic violence situations in their quest to find a way out.
Once a domestic violence victim determines a way out, the community should come together to help empower and support the survivor. The weeks and months immediately after leaving the violence situation likely determine the eventual outcome of the rest of a victim’s life. With the necessary compassion and community support, we all strive towards a common goal of severing the correlation between domestic violence and human trafficking.
Suffering from violence at the hands of a domestic partner does not doom someone to eventual trafficking, nor does it mean you have to end up alone.
At Paving the Way Foundation, we want to ensure no victim feels they are alone. If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic abuse, or think they may be, please call the
National Hotline for Domestic Abuse at 1-800-799-7233. They can connect you with resources in your areas, provide advice on resolving your situation, or even just listen – please let them help. You matter.
Cayla is an English Major at UCF . She interns for Paving the Way Foundation to make a difference.