For women, particularly women of color, gender inequity can have life threatening costs. Women aged 16-24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence, triple the national average, and the rates for women of color are the highest. But without women in positions of power, the problem is not addressed properly. This March, we acknowledge the women who are change-makers in the fight to end domestic violence, while realizing there is more work to be done.
For the past three years, Day One has been hosting the You(th) Already Know! gathering. Bringing together teens and young adults from across the city, the event works to build community and share knowledge around ending intimate partner violence.
Adult allies can attend, but only if they agree to certain guidelines. We’re asked to do something we’re not always accustomed to when interacting with those who are younger than us: take a back seat, listen rather than speak, and earn—not demand—respect.
As an adult, my role at the gathering was to be an observer and an ally. So what is my role in the post-event discussion?
Recently, we saw a long deserved victory for community organizers, survivors, and justice in general: sexual assault charges were brought against singer and known abuser Robert Kelly, better known by his stage name, R. Kelly. After decades of abusing Black girls, it appears that we are finally beginning to see the repercussions; Kelly was dropped from his record label earlier this year in light of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly documentary. However, this action was too long overdue. It comes after years of Kelly preying on young Black girls, a failed trial, and countless horrifying stories from Black women who suffered abuse at his hands. Throughout this, he continued to receive support from his team, fans, and the larger public.
This points to a greater issue of the general disregard for Black girls in discussions of sexual assault; their stories are largely ignored both within and outside the Black community. White, affluent narratives of sexual harassment often take up most of the space in these discussions, silencing low-income women and women of color. This was seen in the #MeToo movement, despite its founder being Tarana Burke, a Black woman. In contrast, campaigns like #MuteRKelly meant to raise awareness about the issues Black women and girls face have taken immense work on the part of Black community organizers to obtain the same national attention.
Talking about romantic relationships with parents or other adults can be uncomfortable, even when everything is going great, so it’s an even harder topic to bring up when they think there might be a problem.
Even when teens do have the courage to speak up, they are sometimes dismissed by the adults in their lives. It’s easy for adults to think that a teenager isn’t capable of real, serious violence or that the accuser is just being naive and dramatic.
If you’re a parent, teacher, coach, or other adult who interacts with teens, what can you do to help them when they’re experiencing violence in their relationship? How can you identify the signs, and how do you support them?
February Is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). Help us celebrate healthy relationships and join us in taking action to spread awareness and prevent dating violence!
Here’s how you can participate.
I met him, and as most stories go, everything was a fairytale at the beginning. He was always a bundle of joy-- helpful, considerate, thoughtful and loving. All these traits got me to fall for him, and I decided to stay in New York when he proposed to me late that fall. We got married very quickly, and I moved in right away. I was so happy I never paid attention to the time or the speed of things.
Day One is excited to announce the third annual You(th) Already Know! (YAK) gathering. Created by and for young people, YAK aims to build knowledge and community around ending intimate partner violence. Day One and YAK are working to empower and enable young people to build a community dedicated to supporting each other and raising awareness about dating violence. We encourage all New York City-based youth leaders and activists to attend this free event.
The protections found in Title IX proceedings have played an important role in many of Day One’s clients pathways towards safety and healing, providing an option for our clients to hold the person who has caused them harm accountable and receive much needed accommodations to continue with their education.
Day One would welcome regulations that would strengthen Title IX and provide more protections for survivors of sexual violence, however that much of the new rules in the proposed regulations will do the opposite, and will cause further trauma and harm to survivors. While several changes in this proposal would negatively impact Day One’s clients, most alarming among them is a change to the very definition of sexual harassment.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month. For those who haven’t experienced it firsthand, stalking behavior might be something you associate with a crime show on tv—a shadowy stranger in a dark alley follows an unsuspecting person from home to school to sports practice.
The reality is that stalking is pretty common in real life. Seven and a half million people are stalked each year in the United States. And unlike on the small screen, stalkers are not often strangers. In 85 percent of cases, the victims are stalked by someone they know.
As a Chicana, the occasion of Day One’s 15th anniversary puts me in mind of the quinceañera celebrations of my youth. I remember the excitement and the truly overwhelming sense of importance – not at having become a young woman (we had been that for some time by the age of 15) – but at the fact that the world was now ready to recognize us. Just like me and my fellow Latinas at that age, Day One isn’t just now coming into its own power. It has already been a powerful contributor to movement work to end violence against women, girls, transgender and gender-nonconforming people. This is an opportunity for all of us to congratulate and celebrate Day One for all its years of work, and to recognize all the dedicated staff, program participants, board members, and community partners who contributed to its growth. Personally, I have a lot of thanks owed to the organization for my own growth.
There is no denying that sexual misconduct is a deeply rooted problem with far reaching and long lasting effects. And while we might not have the answers to fix what happened in the past, this moment in the #metoo movement can surely provide the grounds for cultivating change now and in the future.
The best way to effectively eradicate a problem as old as history itself? Sex education: Real, science-based, this-is-not-taboo sex ed. Experts have been saying for years that factual sex education can reduce the likelihood of violence and abuse in relationships.
The Department of Health and Human Services under the Trump administration is proposing a change to the definition of gender, narrowing it to only male or female and making it determined by the genitals an individual was born with. This threatens to harm the already vulnerable trans* community, who as a group experience greater incidences of dating violence. What steps can you take to support the trans* community?
Twenty years ago, my high school boyfriend turned violent for the first time. During an intense argument, he shoved me to the ground and drove off.
At the time, I felt like the push came out of nowhere. But now, after volunteering with Day One and attending their workshops, I know the classic warning signs were there.
No one asks you out on a first date and says “I am going to hit you in six months.” Abusive relationships start the exact same way healthy relationships start. Puppy love. Sweet moments. Flowers, stolen kisses, long phone calls and hand holding.
June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate and take pride in the LGBTQ+ community. It is a time to embrace the diverse orientations and identities that exist in our world and honor the people who struggled throughout history to get us here. And as we commemorate “love is love,” we must also acknowledge the difference between healthy and unhealthy love.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. About 1 in 5 adults experiences some type of mental illness in a given year in the U.S. Sexual assault survivors are included in those numbers and often feel the mental health effects years after an assault. Although a survivor can eventually come to terms with their past and sometimes even receive legal justice, little can protect these men and women from the negative effects on their mental health.
During Sexual Assault Awareness Month it is important, to not only spread the word of the alarming prevalence of sexual assault, but to listen to the voices of survivors as well. Many use their voices to stand up against rape culture and to empower those recovering from similar situations. We encourage survivors to use their Voices Against Violence!
Throughout history, women’s voices have been silenced. Many powerful activists for women’s rights have paved a way for more women to speak out. Recent movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo provide platforms for all people who identify as women and all those who have been abused and harassed to step forward and share their stories. During Women’s History Month, Day One recognizes and celebrates women that began the fight and encouraged each other to stand together against sexual violence and inequality.
When I was in my bad romance in high school (the one my new young adult novel, Bad Romance, is based on), it was hard for me to be honest with my friends and family about what was really going down in my relationship. For one, when your partner is a master of manipulation, it can be hard to know what exactly is going on in the first place. I can’t tell you how many arguments began with me accusing my boyfriend of something, only to end with me apologizing to him. Teen Dating Violence isn’t just physical or sexual abuse: it is often mental, verbal, and emotional.
Here’s a scary thing: one in three teens are affected by dating violence. One in three. I don’t know why this surprises me, since nearly every girl I talk to admits that she’s had an abusive boyfriend or knows someone who was in a bad romance. Maybe she’s with him now, or maybe they broke up ages ago after too much shouting and crying and hurting. Maybe he was emotionally or physically abusive. Maybe he was verbally abusive. Maybe he was just plain mean. Some of my guy friends have had abusive boyfriends or girlfriends, too. It’s kind of ridiculous, how much heartbreak so many of us are willing to put up with just so that we don’t have to be alone.
As a young adult author, my goal when I sit down to write a story from a teen protagonist’s point of view is to present their experiences as authentically as possible, to try to get in the skin of this character and see the world the way she would in 2018. The vast majority of us who write for teens do so because our teen years still resonate deeply with us. Sadly, in many cases this is because we had particularly tough experiences growing up including, in my case, teen dating violence.