The Shadow Pandemic: Alarming Domestic Violence

In observance of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) in the US, our Marketing Writer Vellisa highlights the alarming nature of the issue.


The last thing everyone wants in their marriage or love life is to get bruises and stitches from their loved ones.

For many, a home is a place full of love, comfort, and support. It’s where you know you’ll be surrounded by warmth and care, one you will always come back to when you need to break free from the busyness of the harsh world.

But for millions of others, home is anything but a sanctuary.

Even though dealing with Domestic Violence has been a long and challenging journey, sadly, it’s still happening in every layer of society and lurking around us. Based on a WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women, which collected data on IPV from more than 24.000 women in 10 countries, 13–61% reported ever having experienced physical violence by a partner. Meanwhile, 20–75% reported experiencing one emotionally abusive act, or more, from a partner in their lifetime.

Even worse, domestic abuse numbers have been spiking up since COVID-19 started. Combined with economic uncertainty, lockdown regulations, and high stress, it gives the abusers more violence and chances to control the victims. According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine and the United Nations group U.N. Women, when the pandemic began, domestic violence incidents increased by 300% in Hubei, China; 25% in Argentina, 30% in Cyprus, 33% in Singapore, and 50% in Brazil.

To put it in a sentence, it’s a pandemic within the COVID-19 pandemic.

To connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children, the United States designated October as its national Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). It was set in 1989 as an evolution from the “Day of Unity” in October 1981, observed by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It is also a moment to encourage survivors to share their stories so that others know they’re not alone.

The Utilization of Digital Resources

While some question social media’s efficiency in creating real-world change, over time, we’ve seen how social media play a critical role in building movements and online communities to enable visibility and voicing out those who need or were misrepresented.

Digital media nowadays are helping to shape public opinion and increasing public awareness of critical issues and their importance. However, not all media coverage of domestic violence is full of rainbows and happy endings.

Bringing multifaceted and complex domestic violence issues to the public could lead to different outcomes ranging from helpful to harmful. We’ve seen numerous victim-blaming cases for those who courageously went public for their domestic violence experiences—which are already hard for them to deal with.

For victims, it seems best for them to do what they can to escape their abusers when there’s a viable option. But in reality, it’s not as easy as it seems in all situations. According to America’s National Institute of Justice, leaving an abuser comes with many dangers for domestic violence victims, potentially leading to extreme violence and murders.

On the brighter side, social media and digital channels are powerful tools that can directly reach broad and diverse audiences and mobilize people to act.

When countries worldwide started to lock down in the early COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Women’s Foundation came up with a #SignalForHelp hand signal for people who might be trapped at home with their abusers.

The hand signal could be used by tucking your thumb into the palm and curling the rest of your other fingers around it on a video call or anywhere silently without leaving any trace. The hand gesture went viral on TikTok with millions of views and tons of acting-out scenario videos in which women might use it to show they are in danger. It’s been recognized and used due to its spread across digital channels.

The gesture, popularized in TikTok, is not the first and only movement of people using social media to combat domestic and gender-based violence. The #DudesGreetingDudes movement that sheds light on the double standard of catcalling and street harassment in 2014 also took the spotlight back in the days on Twitter and YouTube.

Centering Survivor’s Voices

Domestic Violence Awareness Month offers an opportunity to call attention to the complex and multifaceted issue of domestic violence through various media outlets, including through campaigning on Twibbonize.

Numerous anti-domestic violence Twibbonize campaigns are created to bring visibility to the issues, as it’s essential to help get the conversation started and center the victims’ voices.

One of the campaigns we’d like to highlight is the “Stand in Solidarity With Us Against Domestic Violence” by Sisters in Purple, a coalition comprised of domestic violence organizations and advocacy groups. Through this campaign, Sisters in Purple invites us to join their global campaign against domestic violence.

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Purple is the dominating hue, packaged in the form of a ribbon. The color symbolizes solidarity with women worldwide who have become victims of harassment, domestic violence, and other violent crimes. The ribbon also represents hope for a better future for all women, a future without fear and violence.

Sometimes, people don’t realize when they’re in an abusive relationship because of being coerced and the toxic environment that their partners built for them. By taking a step ahead to turn your concerns into movements or taking part in them, you can help others to observe their environment and recognize the signs, including encouraging them to take action to prevent or reduce domestic violence.