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Domestic Violence Awareness Month 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 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 domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and connecting those who work to end violence.

In October 1987, the first National Domestic Violence Awareness Month was held. In conjunction, that same year the first national toll-free hotline was started in the country. In 1989, the first National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative legislation was passed by the United States Congress. Such legislation has passed every year since.

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 deaths. Since then, NCADV has been collecting information on incidents of women who have been killed by an intimate partner and will produce a poster each October for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, listing the names of those documented in the preceding year. The long range goal for the project is to establish a permanent exhibit and/or monument utilizing all the names that have been submitted to the registry and to continue to add names as they are submitted.

Reprinted with permission from 1996 Domestic Violence Awareness packet, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence


  • Plan as far ahead as possible and involve battered women and children as much as possible.

  • Contact your state coalition or network to coordinate and strengthen efforts in your state and region.

  • Be sure that the media is aware of your plans.

  • The suggested national observance is a candlelight ceremony on or near the National Day of Unity to remember those who have suffered and died from domestic violence and to celebrate the work being done to end violence. Choose a significant public place to hold the vigil.

  • Be creative. Include music, poetry, dance, moments of silence, and stories shared by women.

  • Purple is the color for the Month’s activities. Wear purple ribbons to bring national awareness to the issues faced by battered women and their children.


  • Start small if you wish, but plan now to do something during October. Make Domestic Violence Awareness Month part of your evolving her story.

Activities and Ideas

Ribbon Campaign: Distribute purple ribbons to clergy, police chiefs, judges, librarians, emergency room personnel, and others in your community.

Table Tent Campaign: Print table tents with a reminder that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and information about services and how to access them. Distribute table tents to area restaurants and hospital cafeterias.

Utility Company Campaign: Ask local utility companies to include a message in their October bills. (Sometimes banks are also willing to include information in their monthly statements.)

Library Displays: Contact public libraries in your area and provide them with materials for a display. Church Campaign: Send a mass mailing to all religious institutions in your area asking them to address the issue from the pulpit or in their newsletter during October.

Children’s Campaign: Have children from the shelter write thank you cards with painted hand prints on them to be distributed to police departments, judges, probation officers and prosecutors in the county.

Chili Cook-Off: Have a chili cooking contest with prizes and entertainment. Invite individual cooks, teams and restaurants to compete, with tasting open to the public. The proceeds benefit the local shelter.

Clothesline Project Display: Display tee-shirts created by survivors of domestic violence in a public place. The shirts depict their stories, their pain and their hopes.
Teen Dating Violence Essay Contest: Hold essay contests in area schools with an awards ceremony.

Wish List Drive: Put posters in area beauty salons displaying the shelter’s wish list and making literature and information available. For every item contributed,
the person's name is entered in a drawing for a prize.



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