Picture of purple, pink, and white flowers arranged decoratively on a purple cloth, used to symbolize domestic violence awareness month.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but what is domestic violence and why should we care? In a recent interview with our staff, Joy House Counseling Co-Director Susan Gembarowski, MA, LPC, NCC, offered this definition:

“Intimate partner violence is characterized by a pattern of abuse and control over the other partner. That can take different forms, not just physical or sexual, but also through control, intimidation, manipulation, financial abuse, threatening to have the children taken away.”

We also spoke with Program Director Dana Jones, who likewise defines intimate partner violence for us:

“Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors in an intimate relationship that is all about power and control. The goal of the abuser is to gain power and control and maintain it for the partner as well as the household.”

Have you ever witnessed moments of domestic violence, but didn’t recognize what was happening? Maybe you heard screaming in your apartment complex, noticed bruising on a parent dropping off their child at daycare, or saw scratches on a student in your classroom. While this problem is prevalent, it often remains unchecked. 

But why does this matter? 

Domestic violence harms everything it touches. It is not just a “women’s issue.” It affects men and women, sons and daughters, families, and communities. All of us. Domestic violence is a human issue, and one we are working to address through our transformational housing program at Joy House. 

At Joy House, we provide a safe space to experience healing, hope, and joy. It’s a space where women and their children can find refuge, a space to process and begin again. 

Thank you for exploring domestic violence with us this month. We recognize this is a difficult issue that requires sensitivity and care. We invite you to join us in growing your awareness of the issue this month and how Providence Network is working to be part of the solution.

Visit our Joy House page or the National Domestic Violence Hotline to get help.