Many people use fashion as an outlet to express themselves. The clothes we wear are unquestionably one of the most visible statements we can make in daily life. That is why I will be wearing purple on October 23rd (“Purple Thursday”) as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I have called on my colleagues in the legislature to wear purple, the official color of Domestic Violence Awareness, and now I am urging all New Jersey residents to do the same.
Domestic violence has been brought to the forefront of the nation’s attention in recent weeks. While high-profile cases involving professional athletes or other famous persons make headlines, there are acts of domestic violence happening right now – many in homes that you would never suspect. Domestic violence knows no age, race, gender, level of education or economic status. It affects millions of people all across our country each year. On a typical day in America, there are more than 20,000 phone calls made to domestic violence hotlines. Every minute, twenty-four people are victims of intimate partner violence (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). During one year, this equates to more than ten million women and men.
In our state alone, the New Jersey State Police cite 65,060 domestic violence offenses reported in 2012. Children were involved or present during 29 percent of all domestic violence cases in New Jersey that year. Exposure to domestic violence impacts children in catastrophic ways, affecting them physically, psychologically, socially, behaviorally and cognitively. Sadly, children who witness domestic violence in their home are likely to grow up to continue the cycle of violence.
Domestic violence is an epidemic, one whose devastating consequences can last a lifetime, and whose victims often suffer in silence. That is why simple efforts such as marking the month of October “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” and participating in awareness events are so important. By increasing public knowledge, by simply talking about it and getting others to talk about it via days like “Purple Thursday”, we move the discussion to the forefront. By shining a spotlight on domestic violence in our state and in our country, we help to eliminate an abuser’s biggest advantage – the cloak of secrecy.
I hope that on October 23rd you will participate in “Purple Thursday”, and choose a purple shirt, dress, jacket, tie or accessory to wear. I hope that some of you will even share your “purple” photos on my facebook page so we can all share in seeing the support for this cause. Be creative! Anything that you do to support “Purple Thursday” will be an integral part in spreading awareness, publicizing resources and services that are available to those being victimized, and especially, helping to eradicate the secrecy that shelters domestic violence offenders and helps them to continue the cycle of abuse.
Senator Diane Allen, R-Burlington