October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and people wear purple to remember the victims and honor the survivors of domestic abuse, which typically involves controlling, violent and aggressive behavior of a spouse or partner. Although your home life should be about love, happiness and peace, many people are silently trapped in horrific situations that involve physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse.


According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), about 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner each minute in the United States. That number equates to more than 10 million women and men being victims of domestic abuse.

Although domestic abuse affects both men and women, the latter are more likely to fall victim to violence at the hands of an intimate partner. The NCADV calculates about 85 percent of women are victims of domestic violence, whereas men account for about 15 percent.

The Huffington Post reports that between 2001 and 2012, there were 11,766 women killed by current or former male partners in the U.S. By comparison, during the same time frame, 6,488 troops were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s how prevalent domestic violence is, but “only 34 percent of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care.”

Although every situation is different with varying degrees of abuse, here are some of the signs WebMD.com lists to look out for in people you know:

  • Excuses for injuries
  • Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
  • Constantly checking in with their partner
  • Never having money on hand
  • Overly worried about pleasing their partner
  • Skipping out on work, school, or social outings for no clear reason
  • Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises

Domestic abuse is a common issue despite victims’ often isolated feelings. News cycles are filled with domestic violence stories including local women being killed by their significant others; athletes being caught on tape beating their girlfriends; and celebrities who share their abuse stories including Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, R. Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, and Mariah Carey.


During this month of awareness, Serena Williams is using her celebrity to bring light to how financial abuse is a function of domestic violence. In a PSA for the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse campaign called “Invisible Weapon,” the tennis star compares physical signs versus the often unseen use of money to control and dominate in a relationship.

Along with the public-service video, the foundation is also raffling off a limited-edition purse designed by Williams for the fifth annual Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge, occurring through Oct. 31. Every $10 donation is a chance to win the purse, and the proceeds will benefit 300 domestic violence nonprofits across the nation.

For anyone who is unsure about abuse in their relationship, HelpGuide.org and HopeWorks.com offer a list of questions that can provide clarity. If you are experiencing domestic violence, please click here for help. If you are in danger, call 911.