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TRIGGER WARNING: Talk of domestic violence, sexual assault, and rape.

The month of October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States. Domestic violence awareness can be raised through events, social media, and more; in 2018 the tag #1Thing was created on social media to help ignite conversations around domestic violence awareness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more important than ever to advocate for domestic violence awareness, and one of the unexpected ways to do that is through music. 

Because of the pandemic, more people are becoming restless in their homes. It is no secret that during quarantine, domestic violence rates have spiked even higher. According to The Economist, while other criminal activity decreased once COVID-19 began to spread, domestic violence rates rose by 5%. This comes as no surprise, as more people are stuck at home unable to escape their toxic or abusive environments. Thus, Domestic Violence Awareness Month serves an even larger purpose. 

Likewise, domestic violence rates have steadily been increasing. Every minute, 20 people are abused by an intimate partner in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. NCADV states that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. These statistics are scary, but needed to understand the severity of domestic violence itself, especially during a pandemic where rates are potentially rising every day. 

So, what can you do to help raise awareness and fight back against domestic violence? Connie Lim, or Milck of Milck Music, may have the answer. 

Milck is a musician and creator of the #icantkeepquiet movement. She uses her music to heal from her trauma, and writes from the perspective of those who have been victims of domestic violence. Through music, Milck has found her voice, and uses her platform to be a safe place for survivors to cultivate a loving community. 

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“I like to write music that is geared towards helping me figure out difficult topics; from Quiet being something that was helping me to process the trauma I went through and also process how to reclaim my voice,” Milck said. “Now I’m releasing a song called Somebody’s Beloved which is processing the lives lost to systems fueled by systematic racism.”

Through her music and activism, Milck has created a beautiful community of supportive survivors. The music industry has drastically changed from the COVID-19 pandemic; the loss of live shows has driven artists to hone their online platforms in an engaging and more intimate way. 

“I participate with different organizations like the Asian American Women’s Shelter based out of San Francisco, I just did an event for them,” Milck said. “I try to lend my voice and my songs to help different organizations to raise money, like the Joyful Heart Foundation.”

Milck, like many other artists, takes to social media and uses her platform and music to raise money for domestic violence organizations like Mariska Hargitay’s, of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Joyful Heart Foundation. Joyful Heart works to end the backlog of rape kits, as well as spreading awareness about the increasing rates of sexual assault and domestic violence. Milck uses her voice to lift up these foundations, and has a supportive community behind her that also wants to help. 

The intersection between music and domestic violence runs pretty deep. From genres that are calmer and cultivate safe spaces, to genres that encourage violence. 

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“I think the music that I do, helps to give voice to the different thought processes and emotions that come up from learning how to heal and survive from domestic violence,” Milck said. “I would say that there are actually some music genres that encourage domestic violence, which is not good. I’m hoping that our culture can shift so that we don’t feel like we need to sell violence in order to make money. That is something that is really inherent in the music industry, and we’re gonna have to work on that.”

As the world changes, so does music. The pandemic has caused concerts to become pretty much non-existent, as everyone is trying to stay home. Thus, the lack of live music has created a newfound appreciation for itself, and has made many listeners fall in love with new musicians. As artists take to their social media during COVID-19 to continue building their socially-distanced audience, it is now more imperative than ever to use those platforms to raise awareness on issues that really matter, including domestic violence. 

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When asked if the COVID-19 pandemic had affected domestic violence rates, Milck responded, “Absolutely. There’s been so many statistics that have shown that there’s been a huge increase in reports by women, and by some men, about the violence that’s going on. I think that the restlessness and the fact that we can’t leave the home has really been harmful to adults and children who are victims of domestic violence.”

What can everyone be doing to help raise awareness? From posting on social media, to starting conversations, if you feel safe to speak up, please do. Music plays a crucial role in many lives, and having a song resonate with a survivor is already making a huge impact, creating a safe space for them. There are also organizations like Ahimsa House that are taking donations; they help animals in need whose owners are domestic violence survivors, but can’t care for them until they are safe.  

“I think continuing to share stories [to raise awareness of domestic violence], share one’s own story if we’re ready, and if not, we can help share others and be supportive,” Milck said. “I think bringing these conversations up in day to day conversations is also really important.”

Katiee McKinstry is a music and culture blogger who has experience working with crisis center and DV shelter populations. For more of her work, visit her website.

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