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This October, Add Some Purple to Your Pink

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This October, Add Some Pink to Your PurpleChristine Murray, Co-Founder of See the Triumph

It’s October, which means that pink is everywhere. As most of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the official color for this month is pink. Breast cancer is an important public health issue, and it is wonderful that we pay so much attention to it in October and beyond.

Did you know that October also is an awareness month for another important public health issue–domestic violence? The color purple represents Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and yet we see far less purple around us in October than we do pink.

This year, I challenge you to add some purple to your pink, and support domestic violence prevention and interventions alongside the support you offer for breast cancer research and treatment. I urge you to care equally for survivors of breast cancer and survivors of domestic violence, and demonstrate that care by making equal contributions of your time, energy, and financial resources to both of these important causes.

Both breast cancer and domestic violence can have significant negative consequences, even including death. Both of these issues disproportionately affect women, although of course men also can experience either one. And, both of these issues can send ripple effects through friends, family members, and communities.

And yet, domestic violence is, in many ways, overshadowed by breast cancer, especially during October. The heavy marketing of pink and the pink ribbon has reached such a significant level that there is even a “Pink Backlash” effect. Corporate marketing machines have effectively taken the pink symbolism to such a heightened level of popularity that some businesses have no or minimal substance behind the pink.

I believe that one of the main reasons that domestic violence is so overshadowed by breast cancer in October is that there remains a major stigma surrounding domestic violence, and this stigma makes it much more difficult for people and companies to “own” the issue and lend public support. Through the research that is the foundation of our See the Triumph campaign, my colleague Allison Crowe and I have heard from many survivors that they felt ostracized and stereotyped because they had experienced domestic violence after experiencing this stigma firsthand.

There are many ways that you can help efforts to prevent and respond to domestic violence, and so this October, I urge you to do one of the following at least as often as you show your support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

1. Attend a domestic violence awareness event in your community. Contact your local domestic violence agency for a list of events in your area. If no events are planned, consider planning one yourself. Even a relatively small-scale effort, such as hanging up a poster in your workplace, can have a big impact!

2. Make a dollar-for-dollar contribution to an organization that works to address domestic violence. For every dollar you spend toward breast cancer awareness, make an equal contribution to a local or national organization focused on domestic violence. To locate the local domestic violence agency in your community, find your state domestic violence coalition, then contact the coalition to find out the agency that covers your area. Also consider contributions to national organizations, such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Don’t forget to keep track of the contributions you make toward breast cancer awareness through businesses’ promotions of “pink” products.

3. Volunteer to support local efforts to address domestic violence. Contact your local domestic violence agency to learn of opportunities to support their work, such as by volunteering for special events during Domestic Violence Awareness Month or by organizing a donation drive for needed supplies, such as toiletries, clothing, or food.

Until domestic violence reaches the level of social awareness that breast cancer has, we need to continue to make grassroots efforts to raise awareness about this important issue in our communities, nation, and around the world. I urge you to be part of these efforts by adding some purple to your pink this October!

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