Purple has long been associated with military bravery and royalty (and was famously favored by a Princely musician). But why has it become the color of Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
The internet provides a few different answers, but according to an article on DomesticShelters.org, the decision to use purple to symbolize the cause of domestic violence can be traced back to the early 1900s. Rose M. Garrity, president of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), said the women’s suffrage movement utilized purple, white and gold because those were the colors of the National Women’s Party. She said these colors originated in England and symbolized “purity, hope and loyalty.”
Flashing forward to July 9, 1978, nearly 100,000 advocates of equal rights for women marched in Washington, D.C., many dressed in lavender. In October 1981, the NCADV observed a “Day of Unity,” and a majority of participants also chose to wear lavender or purple.
The Day of Unity later turned into a week of activities held at local, state and national levels. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed, and again, purple-hued clothing was widely embraced by participants.
This progression of events helped solidify the adoption of purple for marketing and promotional purposes by domestic violence shelters and advocacy organizations. “There’s a lot of use of the color in the movement and people know what it means,” Garrity said.
Garrity noted, “Battered women chose purple as an evolution of the lavender from decades past. It’s seen as a color of royalty and is already associated with females anyway. As the battered women’s movement grew, we designated October as DV awareness month where we shine a purple light to show support of DV survivors.”
While October is associated with the color pink to symbolize the fight against breast cancer, it is also now widely recognized by domestic violence prevention agencies and support organizations as the month of purple.
As a representative from the NCADV recently observed, “October can handle both pink and purple.”