The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with events all over the country – and here in our community – to raise awareness about a widespread but often unspoken issue.

The statistics about domestic violence are staggering. According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, nearly one in four women in America – and nearly one in seven men – will experience physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. And domestic violence often goes unreported – so much so that experts on the subject still consider an increase in reports to be a positive step. (It doesn’t mean domestic violence is on the rise, they say; it means it’s no longer being swept under the rug.)

In October 1981, a national “Day of Unity” brought domestic violence survivors together to speak out about the issue – and it quickly became an annual tradition. Domestic Violence Awareness Month was first declared in 1987, and it’s been commemorated every October since.

In Orange County, related events are being organized by the Compass Center for Women and Families, a local organization that works with survivors of domestic violence in our community. The center is hosting a kickoff event and happy hour on Tuesday, October 4, from 4-7 pm at the Crunkleton on West Franklin Street; the bar is making a special drink for the event, and 100 percent of sales will be donated to the Compass Center. Other events later in the month include:

  • “coffee and conversation” at the UNC Student Union on Tuesday, October 11 from 5:15-6:30;
  • a screening of the film “Behind Closed Doors” at the Varsity Theater on Thursday, October 13 at 6 pm;
  • a short film screening and panel discussion at Motorco in Durham on Sunday, October 16 (time TBD), co-hosted by the LGBT Center of Raleigh;
  • and an Arts Night at the Chapel Hill Public Library on Thursday, October 27 from 6-8 pm, featuring a cappella vocal groups and spoken-word poetry.

Get the full calendar of events here.

Compass Center executive director Cordelia Heaney and board member Beth Posner (a law professor at UNC) spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


While the Compass Center specializes in helping domestic violence victims, experts say there’s also a correlation between domestic violence and sexual assault. Orange County Rape Crisis Center executive director Irene Dwinnell and associate director Alyson Culin also spoke with Aaron Keck this week to explore that intersection.


If you’re a victim of domestic violence, or if you know someone who is, the Compass Center for Women and Families has a 24-hour hotline at 919-929-7122.

If you’d like to learn more about what you can do for Domestic Violence Awareness Month nationally, visit this page on the website of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.