Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)

Written by:

Patricia Fortunato, Content and Program Manager, Research and Grants, NeuroMusculoskeletal Institute (NMI), Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM), Southern New Jersey Medication for Addiction Treatment Center of Excellence (MATCOE); and

Gabby McAllaster, Ph.D. Candidate in Education at Rowan University and Doctoral Graduate Coordinator for Rowan University's Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).


Warning: This content discusses domestic violence (DV) and intimate partner violence (IPV). If you or someone you know is in crisis, seek immediate help and call 911. Additionally, all Rowan University students from all Rowan colleges and schools including the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (Rowan SOM) and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) can call Rowan Public Safety at 856.256.4911. If these resources do not meet your needs and you or someone you know is still at risk for harm from yourself or others, please call 911. If you are supporting someone in need, do not leave the person alone until emergency medical services arrive.


Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is a time for everyone to speak up about domestic violence (DV) and intimate partner violence (IPV), raise awareness, and support survivors of this devastating issue. Often, survivors struggle in silence, afraid to seek help or unknowing of where to turn. The traumatic effects also extend beyond the survivor, impacting loved ones and communities.



Consent: A mutual and enthusiastic agreement between sexual partners. Partners can revoke consent at any time. Consent cannot be legally given while a sexual partner is intoxicated.

Domestic Violence (DV): Refers to violence among people in a domestic situation, and can thus include not only a spouse or partner (opposite sex or same sex), but also siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, "Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavioral as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, economic, and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically."

Intersectionality: A theoretical concept describing the interconnection of oppressive institutions and identities.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Refers to violence perpetrated by a partner in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship.

Misogyny and Trans-Misogyny: Misogyny is a general hatred and hostility towards women. Trans-misogyny is the same hatred, targeted at trans-feminine people.

Rape: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim."

Rape Culture: A culture in which sexual assault is common and maintained by attitudes about sexuality and violence.

Sexism: A system of beliefs or attitudes which regulates women to limited roles and/or options because of their sex. It centers on the idea that women are inferior to men.

Sexual Assault: Unwanted sexual contact or threat.

Sexual Harassment: According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Harassment can include 'sexual harassment' or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person's sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex."

Survivor vs. Victim: Debated terms focused on how to identify those who experience crime; usually, sexual assault. Some use survivor as a way to empower those who have lived through an experience, while others believe that it should be a chosen title.

Title IX: Protects people from sex-based discrimination in educational programs or activities which receive federal financial assistance.

Victim Blaming: Victim blaming occurs when victims/survivors are silenced, shamed, and/or held responsible, even partially, for a crime. It is critically important to affirm victims/survivors and avoid statements including and not limited to, "Don't think about it," "Why didn't you leave?," and "Why didn't you fight back?"


Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse:

  • Telling you that you never do anything right
  • Showing jealousy of your friends and time away from them
  • Preventing or discouraging you from spending time with loved ones
  • Shaming you
  • Preventing you from making decisions, including about work or school
  • Controlling finances without discussion, including taking your money or refusing to provide money for necessities
  • Pressuring you to have sex, or perform sexual acts that you're not comfortable with
  • Pressuring you to drink alcohol or use drugs
  • Intimidating you through threatening looks or actions
  • Insulting your parenting or threatening to harm your children or pets
  • Intimidating you with weapons including and not limited to knives and guns
  • Destroying your belongings or your home

Ways to Support and Advocate for Survivors:

Be cautious of victim-blaming statements and attitudes.

Such statements and attitudes create barriers that marginalize the victim/survivor and make it more difficult for them to come forward and report the abuse. Placing blame on the victim/survivor harmfully shifts the focus from the perpetrator and makes it seem as though the victim/survivor is responsible for being abused. Victim blaming can take on many forms and is often a result of sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and racist attitudes in society. When society blames survivors for abuse, those survivors will not feel safe or comfortable coming forward with their story. Some examples of victim-blaming statements and attitudes include:

  • "She asked for it."
  • "Were you drinking?"
  • "They can't be abused because they are LGBTQIA+."


Be supportive and believe their story.

If a survivor wants to talk, listen and be empathetic. You can be most supportive by listening to what they say. Reassure them that they are not alone and there is support available. Let them know that the abuse is not their fault and that you understand the difficulty of their situation. Ask how you can support them. Some examples of supportive statements include:

  • "I noticed you have some bruises. How did that happen?"
  • "I've noticed that you seem frightened of your partner [or other person whom you suspect is hurting them]. Is everything okay?"
  • "When I saw [X] happen, I became concerned for your safety. Have you thought about talking to someone?"
  • "Here are resources for when you're ready. I encourage you to make a call. But I want you to know that this is your situation and you know what is best for you."


Speak out against DV within LGBTQIA+ communities.

Since the majority of the DV awareness movement has focused on heterosexual relationships, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have been largely left out and forgotten. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Study findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation showed that LGBTQIA+ members experience domestic violence at equal or even higher rates compared to their heterosexual counterparts. There are also aspects of domestic violence that are unique to the LGBTQIA+ community, including "outing" or threatening to reveal an individual's sexual orientation/gender identity as a tool of abuse. As such, it is important to recognize and speak out against forms of abuse and violence, as well as barriers to accessing support for the LGBTQIA+ community.


  • Check-in with them frequently. The event may have happened recently, or some time ago; however, that does not mean that the pain has disappeared. Check-in with the survivor to remind them that you genuinely care about their well-being.
  • Advocate for the protection of and increase in funding for safety net programs including and not limited to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Share supplies and resources. Donate to The Shop at Rowan University by emailing or call 856.256.6333 to coordinate delivery details during hours of operation.
  • Reject sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, xenophobia, and violence, and all hateful or intolerant speech both in-person and online. Be an "up-stander" and discourage others from engaging in such behavior.
  • Take care of yourself and loved ones, check-in with each other, and provide connection and community.

Rowan University Community of Support:

  • The Rowan University Office of Student Equity and Compliance (OSEC) provides information regarding policies and procedures related to sexual misconduct, and other onsite and offsite support services and resources. Individuals are encouraged to consult with the University AVP/Title IX Coordinator to report any concerns. In addition, confidential resources are available to assist in accessing counseling and support services. The OSEC website contains FAQs on reporting options, resources, medical and legal assistance, and a guide to understanding the responsible employee role.
  • Services Empowering Rights of Victims (SERV) provides support to victims and survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence and intimate partner violence, and human trafficking to support people on a journey towards healing and empowerment. SERV provides a safe space for all that encourages recovery and self-care. SERV advocates protect the rights of survivors to ensure that they are treated with compassion and dignity. Support is offered for the survivor and those close to them through a 24/7 hotline, online chat, crisis intervention, legal advocacy, safe housing, education, counseling, and support groups. All services are free of charge, strictly confidential, culturally sensitive, and available in both English and Spanish languages. If you are in crisis, you can contact a SERV advocate. Call 1.866.295.SERV (7378) or email


Resources for the LGBTQIA+ Community:

  • LAMBDA Legal is a non-profit, LGBTQIA+ agency dedicated to reducing homophobia, inequality, hate crimes, and discrimination by encouraging self-acceptance, cooperation, and non-violence.
  • LGBT National Help Center provides free and confidential telephone and internet peer-counseling, information and local resources for LGBTQIA+ callers throughout the United States. Call 888.843.4564.
  • National LGBTQ Institute on IPV expands the capacity of individuals, organizations, governmental agencies, local communities, tribes, and tribal organizations to identify and respond to the specific and emerging needs of diverse LGBTQIA+ intimate partner violence survivors.


Crisis, Mental Health, and Substance Use Disorder Resources:

  • Rowan University Wellness Center is available Monday through Friday, 8 am – 4 pm: 856-256-4333. For an emergency on the Glassboro campus, call Rowan Public Safety at 856-256-4911.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you are in distress and would like free, confidential crisis counseling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. More than 150 languages are offered on the lifeline. Note: You do not have to be suicidal to call.
  • Asian LifeNet Hotline: If you are in distress and would like free, confidential crisis counseling in the specific languages of Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, or Fujianese, call the Asian LifeNet Hotline at 1.877.990.8585.
  • Crisis Text Line: If you are in distress and would like free, confidential crisis counseling via text message, text HOME to the number 741741.
  • SAMHSA National Helpline: If you are experiencing issues with mental health and/or substance use disorders, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline is a free, confidential information service and treatment referral. Call 1.800.662.4357.


Resources for Continued Learning:

Rowan University Safe Zone Training: The Safe Zone Training program is designed to equip the Rowan University community to better support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/question, intersex, and agender/asexual community members. Participants develop a toolkit to shift from passive to active allyship to create a network of support and advocacy across campus. The training is offered by request only. Please complete this Workshop Request Form allowing at least one month between the date of request and the date when you would like to have the workshop delivered.








New Jersey and Local Groups to Support:

  • Services Empowering Rights of Victims (SERV) provides support to victims and survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, and human trafficking to help people in a journey toward healing and empowerment. SERV supports survivors through competence and empowerment and provides a safe space for all that encourages recovery and self-care.
  • Women Rising provides support to women and families in need of jobs, safety from domestic violence, freedom from homelessness, and safe lives for children, by providing supportive counseling, crisis intervention, workforce development and job placement, permanent supportive housing, shelter for survivors of domestic violence, outreach, advocacy, and referrals.

National Groups to Support:

  • Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence is a national resource center on gender violence in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. It serves a national network of community-based organizations, advocates, and professionals in legal, health, mental health, and social services; government agencies; state coalitions; national domestic and sexual violence organizations; and activists from communities and social justice organizations working to eliminate violence against women. Its goals are to strengthen advocacy, promote community organizing, and influence systemic change. It identifies and addresses critical issues, provides technical assistance and training, conducts research, and engages in policy advocacy.
  • The Center for Survivor Agency and Justice is a national organization dedicated to enhancing advocacy for survivors of oppression-based intimate partner violence. CSAJ seeks to promote survivor-centered advocacy by enhancing legal work, organizing communities, and offering leadership on critical issues for survivors and advocates throughout the nation. They strive to enhance advocacy by cultivating a community of attorneys and advocates who are skilled in survivor-centered advocacy and capable of meeting the entire spectrum of civil legal assistance needs of survivors through their own advocacy and in partnership with others.
  • Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project is a grassroots, nonprofit organization founded by a gay male survivor of domestic violence. The organization is further developed through the strength, contributions, and participation of the community, and supports victims and survivors through education, advocacy, and direct services.
  • Incite! Women of Color Against Violence is a national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and communities through direct action, critical dialogue, and grassroots organizing.
  • National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence mission is to design, provide, and customize training and consultation, influence policy, promote collaboration, and enhance diversity with the goal of ending domestic and sexual violence.
  • National Indigenous Women's Resource Center is dedicated to restoring safety to Native women by upholding the sovereignty of Indian and Alaska Native tribes. It is a Native nonprofit organization that was created specifically to serve as the National Indian Resource Center Addressing Domestic Violence and Safety for Indian Women. Under this grant project and in compliance with statutory requirements, they seek to enhance the capacity of American Indian and Alaska Native (Native) tribes, Native Hawaiians, and Tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations to respond to domestic violence.