In an ironic twist of fate, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).
While the not-vile segment of the American population is spending the month finding ways to mourn those who have been killed by intimate partners, celebrate survivors and draw attention to a global problem that causes as many as 1,200 deaths and more than 2 million injuries to women every year in the U.S. alone, another segment is preparing to call attention to this serious problem a different way [TRIGGER WARNING]: with hilarious Halloween costumes!!
Like this one, posted on beyond-awesome.com, where a fun loving couple decided to go as a horrific murderer and a butchered pregnant girl.
In the longstanding, time-honored tradition of creating Halloween costumes out of things that are not funny (like this one about pedophilia, this one about sexual abuse, this one about doctor abuse, this one about breast cancer, and these racist ones), domestic violence has a particularly sick share in the line-up:
Exhibit Awful: footballer’s girlfriend costumes.
There are excellent annual feminist critiques of offensive Halloween costumes, such as here, but they tend to focus on what’s available in stores. Domestic-violence costumes tend to be homemade—retailers don’t yet have the bad taste to mass-market “Battered Wife Barbie” outfits. That means that while store-bought beauties such as this children’s pimp costume and the always sexy Anna Rexia get rightfully called out, DIY abused-women atrocities like this one are overlooked. So, then, does the pervasive problem of our society’s lax attitude towards domestic violence and its victims.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I have this to say to anyone who plans to dress up in a pregnant battered wife costume or as a bruised Rihanna:
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NOT FUNNY.
What is funny? How about dressing up with a bunch of babies for an abstinence-only sex education costume. But here’s what’s not funny:
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
- Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
- Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
- Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
- One in 5 female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. They are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide. Making this costume not funny.
- This one is also not funny: As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.
- And this costume is absolutely not funny: 74 percent of all murder-suicides [PDF] involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend). Of these, 96 percent were females killed by their intimate partners.
Finally, since polls have shown that between 60 percent and 75 percent of people surveyed personally know someone who has been or is the victim of domestic violence, and that 1 out of 3 women in the world will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, and that 1 out of 4 women in the U.S. will be the victim of domestic violence in her lifetime, chances are that at least one, and probably many more, of the women unfortunate enough to see your comedic Halloween costumes celebrating domestic violence will find it A LOT WORSE THAN NOT FUNNY.
Like, maybe, painful. Or triggering. Or just plain heartbreaking.