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History of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October 1981 by the National Coalition against Domestic Violence (NCADV). The intent was to connect battered women's advocates across the nation who were working to end men’s violence against women and children. The Day of Unity soon became a special week when a range of activities was conducted at the local, state and national levels.

These activities were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors but had a common theme: mourning those who have died because of men’s domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and connecting those who work to end men’s violence.

In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was held. In conjunction, that same year the first national toll-free hotline was begun. In 1989, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month commemorative legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress -- such legislation has passed every year since. The Day of Unity is celebrated on the first Monday in October.

In October 1994, NCADV, in conjunction with MS. Magazine, created the Remember My Name project, a national registry to increase public awareness of domestic violence murders. Since then, NCADV has been collecting information on incidents of women who have been killed by an intimate partner and produces a poster each October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, listing the names of those documented murders in the preceding year.

Now, DVAM is a national movement that works to bring men’s domestic violence and its prevention to the front of public debate. Every October, DVAM activities are planned across the country. National, statewide, and community-based domestic violence prevention and victim service organizations around the nation mark DVAM with recognition ceremonies, memorial activities, public education campaigns, community outreach events, news conferences and much more.

Adapted from the 1996 Domestic Violence Awareness Packet, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

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