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Sobering October focus: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is a harbinger month each year for many people across the country, denoting a seasonal transition and beginning march toward multiple major holidays, school reprieves for youngsters, family reunions and various year-end events.

As for itself, the month annually brings a time change (Fall back, Spring ahead) for most of the country, including Massachusetts. And then there is Halloween, of course.

And this, too: For many years running now, American presidents have declared via an annual proclamation that October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

That yearly reminder of a sad and sensitive topic is not meant to siphon fun from the holidays. Rather, it serves to underscore what legions of Americans know is a serious problem that must be addressed and purposefully dealt with.

The dimensions of domestic violence across the United States are truly sobering. A recent White House communique cites the harrowing estimate that close to 25% of all adult women "have been the victim of physical violence by an intimate partner."

And it is not just women, of course, who are victimized by family abuse. Myriad studies on the topic remind us that children and men, too, suffer from home-based violence.

A full appreciation of the problem mandates an understanding that abuse encompasses far more than physical violence alone. Victims across the country routinely suffer from emotional abuse (such as harassment and belittling), as well as from non-contact threats of harm that the White House communication notes can inflict "deep scars."

Domestic violence is a problem that existing laws are readily capable of addressing, both for victims and for individuals who are falsely accused of criminal acts.

Questions or concerns regarding this important matter can be addressed to an experienced family law attorney who routinely represents diverse clientele in domestic violence cases.

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