October was always my favorite month. It meant Halloween, pumpkin pie, cooler autumn temperatures and my birthday.
This year, I'm adding something else to the list of October traditions, something much more meaningful.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I can't think of a better tradition than enlisting in the fight against domestic violence.
When I moved to South Carolina in 1995, I was too young to know that South Carolina had a nasty "tradition" of domestic violence.
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The Violence Policy Center released a report in September that ranked the state the worst in the nation for deadly violence against women.
I decided to learn more. On a recent Tuesday evening, I headed over to the University of South Carolina Beaufort library to listen to speakers from some of our community's social service organizations.
The event -- sponsored by the USCB Sociology Club in conjunction with Citizens Opposed to Domestic Violence -- was designed to educate the general public about what these organizations do and what their missions are.
James Morall of Hope Haven of the Lowcountry, a children's advocacy and rape crisis center in Beaufort, was among the speakers. He is a violence prevention specialist who also works with the Abuse Prevention Coalition. His duties include visiting area schools to talk to adolescent boys about ways to combat violence against women.
"Our society creates pressure to conform to the 'molds' of masculinity (and femininity), which promulgates gender inequalities," Morall told the crowd made up of students, professors, writers and veterans.
Morall believes we should be giving men -- young and old -- more outlets like this event in which to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Doing so, he says, helps create an environment that emphasizes communication, compassion, and reasoning as opposed to violence.
During the questions and comments portion of the program, the most compelling testimonies were those given by survivors and reformed abusers. Listening to their stories and seeing people who have been directly affected by domestic violence made the issue real for me.
While our state legislature has made some advances aimed at addressing the problem, laws alone are not going to solve it. As the rapper and prophet Macklemore said, "No law is gonna change us. We have to change us."
Domestic violence affects us all.
All of the currently silent voices must speak together as one.
We cannot expect to end domestic violence without this unified front.
Simply put, until domestic violence is extinct in our society, one month, even if it's October, will never be enough.
Brian Vosicky is a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. He is studying psychology at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.