Thursday, October 07, 2010

What Are YOU Doing For Domestic Violence Awareness Month? (Or…Where Is All The Purple?)

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I realize it is also a month to recognize a lot of other really important issues -- most notably breast cancer. But while you see a lot of "pink" around, do you see a lot of "purple"? (Purple is the color that represents domestic violence awareness in the same way that pink represents breast cancer awareness.)

I have seen pink mixers, pink bras, pink baseball bats, pink shoes. . . you name it. But why not purple?
I have some guesses.
A long time ago, no one talked about breast cancer -- they kept it a secret, and somehow it was a "shame" and was somehow the fault of the person who received the diagnosis. But fortunately that has changed, and we no longer blame breast cancer victims. We call them survivors. And we honor them for their amazing courage. And we should.

Now -- with domestic violence, we are not exactly there. We are uncomfortable with it because we are not really sure what "causes" it, whose "fault" it is, what we should do about it, or how to even say something to someone. I don't know all the reasons. I just know this -- it is highly uncomfortable for us.

But put all that aside for a moment. I think we can all agree that the one place everyone should be safe and secure is in their own homes where they should feel loved and cherished. And I think we can all learn a bit about how to be healthier in our own relationships (which is also a source of discomfort for us, I think) and also learn how to recognize if someone is in a relationship that is perhaps not as healthy or safe as it could be.

I am not sure it "matters" that I "get" everything about someone else's relationship-- I am really clear that no one deserves to be hit. Or slapped. Or to have things thrown at them. Or to be intimidated. Or for their children to be afraid.

Maybe for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it would be good if we could all do what 33 organizations and businesses in Central Illinois did on October 5 and asked people just learn to talk about this -- not argue about it, not decide if it is a "men's thing" or a "women's thing" but just realize it is a thing that impacts everyone.
On October 5, some of those people wore purple.  One of them told me she wore purple and asked people if they knew why she was wearing that color. If they didn't, she started a conversation with them about it.  Isn't that great?
Spread the purple!!!!


KWG said...

We had an event on Monday in downtown Santa Cruz that was all about domestic violence awareness -- The Clothesline Project. Purple means hope.

Kim Wells said...

That is awesome Kevin - and you are right...purple does mean hope. Let's keep on spreading it!

Beyond the tears said...

Thank you for the work that you do! I am a breast cancer survivor, and my mother is terminal with. Yet as an author and advocate for victims of domestic violence, I have to speak out in October because there is more pink than purple. You asked, "What are you doing?" The National Association of Baby Boomer Women is hosting a teleseminar, and I will be talking about domestic violence tonight at

Kim Wells said...

Lynn - thank you for speaking out!

Shonali Burke said...

Kim, I think it's because Komen has masterfully commandeered the month of October AND the color pink. And the LGBTQ community commandeered the color purple a long time ago.

Kim Wells said...

Shonali - those are interesting thoughts. And indeed Komen does a fabulous job "spreading the pink." But unfortunately I think this is more than an issue of "commandeering color"...I think it is an issue of how comfortable we are discussing and "representing" on this issue. If there is a resource table on domestic violence...and one on breast cancer awareness... I can guarantee you which one people are more comfortable coming up to for information. (I am never the most popular table at the workplace wellness fair).

We have to find ways to change this. And I will keep trying.

Allyson M. Deese said...

Just stopping by to say thanks again for all of your support for the fight against domestic violence!
Because love is not abuse, and like Tina said, what's love got to do with it.

God Bless,
Allyson M. Deese

Lorne Pike said...

Good question, Kim. I'm not sure how valid this comment is because it comes without research, but I'd venture that the biggest gap between the amounts of pink and purple visible this month is the amount of funding available to spread the word. They're both great causes, but I see breast cancer as one of the most widely supported causes in the world. From a pure marketing point of view, it will be hard to be seen when you're trying to be visible in the month when they're most in the limelight.

But even just the number of rough-and-tough 300 lb NFL players who wear pink this month should be ample evidence that causes such as domestic violence and breast cancer can win widespread support. If there's any traction at all to moving the month (which is not unheard of), you may be at least one step closer to becoming more visible.

Keep doing the great things that you're doing, Kim. As many have said, you're changing lives.

Kim Wells said...

Lorne - thanks for your insights! Much thought actually went into asking the grassroots organizations about moving NDVAM to another month...and for now it is staying in October. I don't so much personally care if I EVER see football players wearing purple shoes...but I would like to see a day where we can all more openly discuss an issue which is so uncomfortable for so many.

And you are so right - as is Shonali - money and marketing DO make a difference. But I do think there is that psychological issue that we have to address.....and we can only do that by talking and opening communication at a very human level, I think.

Thank you as always...for being you!

DCCADV said...

D.C's doing some great things for DVAM this year. Something we're really excited about is that one of D.C's most popular cupcake stores Hello Cupcake is making purple ribbon cupcakes! This will surely get the word out given the cupcake culture of D.C. Our staff has been doing great public awareness events and we're getting a great response! Hoping next Oct. D.C will be a lot more purple than it is this month!

Kim Wells said...

DCCADV - That is so awesome! I love it! Thanks for sharing!