October is domestic violence awareness month, bringing light to the unspoken killer in our society. Keeping with its mission to speak for those who have suffered from domestic violence, Belles Service Organization held its annual silent protest in front of the library. My freshman and sophomore year at LMU, I walked past the line of protestors, too nervous to actually look at the signs or make eye contact with the protestors. I was moved by their bravery, but too shy to acknowledge the strength in their message. My junior and senior year, I had the chance to be a part of the protest, and the clarity and confidence it gave me is immeasurable.
Thirty-five percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner on non-partner violence. This is a shockingly high percentage, yet no one seems to discuss the toll that domestic violence has on our society. Growing up, my family was affected by domestic violence, yet I did not have the ability to articulate exactly what was happening. From the seemingly “smaller” acts of abuse like emotional manipulation or gaslighting, to physical threats like sexual assault and rape, domestic violence encapsulates many injustices. Domestic violence is an assault on the survivors' mental and physical health, and the issue needs acknowledgement.
In their protest, the Belles held up signs with facts or phrases about domestic violence, with things such as “Love should never hurt” or statements about how domestic violence can happen to anybody of any race, gender or socioeconomic status. The Belles covered their mouths with tape, and wrote words like “love” or “trust” on the tape, because oftentimes the love and trust we have for our partner silences us out of fear. We stand in solidarity with and awareness for the victims of domestic violence who cannot speak out against their injustices. We stand for the survivors. This was a 24 hour protest, which means that from 8 a.m. to 8 a.m. Belles stood in shifts, in the cold and in the heat, holding their signs with a firm sense of duty and responsibility. Some people stopped and read the signs, others took their phones out of their pockets and looked at them to avoid eye contact. It was also an open protest, which means that anybody can pick up a sign and stand with us in solidarity and bring awareness to this injustice against humankind.
Domestic violence is not a women’s issue; it is everyone's issue. Women are not the sole receivers of domestic abuse — men are affected by it greatly as well. Yet, people do not know how to discuss domestic violence because it is an uncomfortable topic to bring up. Since there is a lack of dialogue about it, most people also remain unsure of whether what they are going through even merits the term “domestic violence." We need to open up our society's dialogue about domestic violence so that we can provide support for those who are being affected by it every single day. Abuse is a cycle, and we need to provide a way to stop it. If you or a loved one is being affected by domestic violence, there are hotlines you can reach out to for support if you are not ready to talk to the people in your life. Text CONNECT to 741741 to immediately be connected to a Crisis Counselor. Always remember that hands should never harm, and love should never hurt.
This is the opinion of Cathren Killedjian, a senior Communications and English double major from Los Angeles, California. Tweet comments @LALoyolan, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.