October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. While most of us know that abuse and violence can happen within intimate relationships, we might not be aware of the scope of the problem or how many people are affected by domestic violence.
At Day One, we focus specifically on providing support to teens and young adults, so we’d like to share some statistics that highlight the ways in which youth are affected by domestic violence.
We hope that by sharing these statistics, we inspire you to take action to prevent domestic violence. Maybe that’s through donating to or volunteering with a group like Day One. Or maybe it’s taking advantage of services designed to help those who are in dangerous situations, if you yourself have been a victim of domestic violence. Or maybe it’s checking in on a friend who you suspect might be in an unhealthy relationship.
Whatever the case may be, we hope these statistics encourage you to take at least one small step to halt domestic violence this month.
1. It’s Really Common and Can Happen to Anyone
In national surveys, one in three teens have reported experiencing violence or abuse in their romantic relationships. Violence can happen in any relationship. Gay, straight, bi, cis, transgender, and gender-non-conforming people can all either experience or perpetrate violence in their relationships.
There are some populations that are at greater risk. Women aged 16-24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence, three times the national average. LGBTQ youth are also more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to face violence in their relationships. Forty three percent of LGBTQ youth report experiencing abuse at the hands of their partners, compared to 29% of heterosexual youth.
2. Domestic Violence in NYC is on the Rise
Over the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of domestic violence crimes reported to the New York City Police Department. In 2016, 11.6% of all major crimes in NYC were related to domestic violence. That represents a 6% increase since 2007.
Domestic violence accounts for a sizable portion of all violence here in NYC. Of all of the homicides reported across the city, one in five are a result of domestic violence. Two in every five assaults reported are also domestic-violence related. The statistics are particularly striking for female victims; almost half of all female homicide victims were killed by their partners. By contrast, only three percent of all male homicide victims were killed by their partners.
3. Violence Begets Violence
Violence and abuse are often cyclical. People model their behavior after what others have shown them, so when teens and youth are victims of abuse, or even are witnesses of abusive behavior, they are more likely to be violent themselves in the future.
A study of New York City teens indicated that survivors of dating abuse are three times more likely to carry a weapon to school. And in a study of high school students across the U.S., researchers found that students who self-report being hit by friends are 169% more likely to perpetrate dating violence.
4. It’s Hard for Teens to Discuss Abuse with Adults
A survey of U.S. teens who were in violent relationships revealed that 86% of them were more likely to turn to a friend for advice or help than to seek out an adult’s guidance. And in many cases, that’s because adults don’t know how to open the lines of communication when it comes to talking about dating violence.
A 2009 study showed that only 31% of teens had discussed dating abuse with parents in the past year. And even those adults working in high schools share that it’s often challenging for them to handle reports of dating violence. In a 2012 survey of high school guidance counselors, 81% of respondents said their school had no protocol for managing a student’s disclosure of dating violence, and 90% said staff received no training on how to help students experiencing dating abuse.
5. Education is the Best Prevention
It’s near impossible to stop dating violence if you don’t know what you’re looking for. And for young people, what constitutes a violent or abusive relationship can be confusing. After all, many are just entering into their first romantic relationships; they don’t have prior experience to help them understand what’s healthy and what’s not okay. Of college students who had been in abusive relationships, 70% of them did not know at the time that the relationship they were in was in fact abusive.
That’s where education comes in. A 2008 study found that teens who received comprehensive sex education had perpetrated far fewer acts of violence toward a dating partner by the end of their junior year of high school.
And the healthy relationship models that students are introduced to early on help them maintain safe relationships for years after. A study of an education program geared towards middle- and high-school students found that students in the program reported 56% less perpetration and 92% less victimization in their relationships during a follow-up four years after the program’s conclusion.
Domestic violence affects many people each and every day, and it’s often difficult and scary for victims of violence to reach out and seek help. That difficulty is only compounded when looking at teen populations, who sometimes don’t have the know-how to be able to identify their relationship as dangerous, and are likely uncomfortable with or unable to discuss their concerns with the adults in their lives.
That’s why Day One is committed to providing education and community outreach to youth in New York City. Through education, we aim to help teens and young adults establish healthy relationships from day one. But for those young people who are in unhealthy relationships and are in need of direct services, we offer that support as well.
We hope that you’ll join us in observing Domestic Violence Awareness Month by getting involved in the work that we do with New York City youth, or by taking the first step to seek help for yourself or a friend or loved one.