Nonprofit updates from across New York. Day One raised $300,000 at an April 17 event in Manhattan. The event commemorated the sexual assault-fighting nonprofit’s 15th anniversary and honored filmmaker Abigail Disney, according to an April 25 press release. MSNBC political analyst Zerlina Maxwell, a rape survivor who created the #RapeCultureIsWhen hashtag, also attended the event.
Do you remember ever being taught how to maintain a healthy relationship? Much like how to do taxes or choose the right health insurance, this vitally important day-to-day skill was largely looked over during sex education. “Anyone can have sex, but having a relationship, one that is healthy and based on respect and trust takes work and practice.” explains Macklin. “Young people need to be able to learn about relationship dynamics and communication skills so that they can negotiate sexual relationships.”
And that includes respecting one another. “Stealthing and birth control sabotage are issues that weren’t discussed years ago; in fact, the terms only recently came into usage in the last handful of years,” says Stephanie Nilva, executive director of Day One, “the primary voice of expertise in New York City on the issue of dating abuse and domestic violence among youth.”
Something that had yet to exist 20 years ago, online harassment has risen to prominence over the past few years, especially sexual harassment. “Conversations in schools today would include the use of technology as a tool to harm others, such as ‘slut-shaming’ and sexual harassment online, nonconsensual pornography, or revenge porn,” notes Nilva. Unfortunately, this has become so prevalent, she says, that many legal cases have been brought on the subject, and legislation has been proposed or passed in many states.
The teenage years are the time when kids are developing their own unique identity, says Stephanie Nilva, executive director of Day One New York, an organization in New York City that counsels survivors of intimate partner violence. “At the same time, their personalities haven’t been fully formed. Remember: It’s their role and responsibility to be testing boundaries, to be exploring, to be figuring out what their identity is.” Given this, you want to try to be as open as possible to talking to your teen about even the most awkward of topics.
If your kids haven’t hit the teen stage quite yet, here’s some good news: Now’s the time to build trust with them. “Make sure the children in your household feel comfortable talking to you,” Nilva says. Then, when they’re older, make sure when you’re thinking about discipline or accountability, what comes first is your overall concern with their health and safety. “In other words, urge them to talk to you even if you’re upset that your teen violated an understanding you had whether it’s about violating a curfew or anything else—that trust is what’s most important.”
Re “How to Make Sex More Dangerous” (Op-Ed, nytimes.com, March 11):
We at Day One agree with Andrea Barrica’s assessment of sex education. Teaching students about consent, teenage dating violence and bodily autonomy is critical to prevent abusive and coercive relationships.
While statistics vary, nationally nearly 1 in 11 female teenagers and about 1 in 15 male teenagers experienced physical dating violence within the last year. In New York, about 10 percent of teenagers reported experiencing physical dating violence.
New York has the chance to pass a bill that for the first time would mandate statewide, medically accurate health education teaching consent, the intersection of technology and dating violence, and other related topics.
Day One assists young people 24 and younger who are experiencing some form of intimate partner abuse. Throughout our organization we interact with tens of thousands of young people citywide each year.
Day One is proud to share that Andrew Sta. Ana, Director of Legal Services, is one of 40 top lawyers around the country to receive the Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40 Award.
Our Director of Legal Services Andrew Sta. Ana recently connected with Pillow Talk to walk listeners through the laws currently in place to protect citizens from online abuse such as cyberbullying, doxxing, and revenge porn.
Stephanie Nilva, the executive director of Day One, a nonprofit organization that focuses on reducing domestic abuse by working with youth, believes it is critical to help teenagers build an understanding of systemic oppression by introducing teenagers to discussions about male and white privilege.
"Media can undo the damage that their action or inaction has caused by lifting up the marginalized voices that were silenced or have not yet been heard," she tells Bustle in an email. "They can identify toxic masculinity and male privilege for what they are — systems of oppression and precursors to control and violence (which are exacerbated by white supremacy) — instead of presenting them without comment.”
There’s an aspect of Valentine’s Day that can be even more detrimental than what triggers dredge up. Since Valentine’s Day evokes an idealized notion of love, it can remind survivors of good times they had with an abuser and make them feel particularly lonely, which may, in turn, tempt them to go back to that abusive relationship.
Social Services supervisor Natalie Rentas of Day One, a nonprofit working to end dating abuse and domestic violence, often sees these feelings come up with clients during holidays. “They hold onto the memories of the good times that they had, especially during these holidays, and that usually breeds a hope that this person can go back to being the good person that they were,” Rentas tells Allure. “Despite how much hurt they [experienced], they can remember how good it felt, and think that they can probably make it work, because at one time, things were good.
Stephanie Nilva, executive director of Day One, which partners with youth to end dating abuse and domestic violence, believes that young people can provide valuable contributions to the efficacy of city services to address their unique needs.
“Day One applauds today’s City Council vote requiring the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence to provide satisfaction surveys to constituents at the Family Justice Centers,” said Nilva. “Critically important services are delivered in the five FJCs, and feedback from survivors should play a central role in their operation.”
When Johanna Burgos asks rooms of teenagers whether they know someone who has sent a nude picture, about 90 percent of the room always raises their hand.
“Whether they’re sending the photo or not, they know someone who is sending the photo,” she says.
Burgos oversees a program that teaches healthy relationships at middle schools in New York City. She uses this story to illustrate one thing: Teenagers need to learn about sexting.
But they’re not.
American students are either not learning about sexting in the classroom at all, or the lessons they do receive don’t adequately address the wide spectrum of experiences teens may have.
There’s no comprehensive data showing the number of U.S. school districts that address sexting in sex ed, but several sex educators told Mashable that it’s uncommon, based on their experiences and conversations with school officials.
Burgos, who works for Day One, which focuses on dating abuse and domestic violence, describes it as “hit or miss.” When she does a workshop on technology, for example, some school administrators ask her not to talk about it at all. Others want her to broach the subject because they hear that students are sending nude photos and spreading rumors. Alternatively, they want to help students figure out if it’s a healthy choice for their relationship or coercive.
One thing is clear for sex educators, though: Avoiding the subject isn’t the right approach.
Four dancers glide across the floor, holding hands and leaping in tandem. Suddenly, they and the music are interrupted by the sound of incoming text messages that demand to know “What are you doing?” “Where are you?” “Who are you with?” The questions cause one of the dancers to lose focus and to break away from the others.
This performance is one of four in the repertoire of “Hands are for Holding,” a program created by the dance center Gibney to fuel discussions about healthy relationships and intimate-partner violence with students in grades four through 12. Each assembly features four dancers and a community educator who facilitates a post-performance conversation.
“We utilized the dances as a proxy for the conversation because what makes a healthy dance is often the same thing that makes a healthy relationship,” says Kara Gilmour, the center’s senior director of community training and outreach. “Communication, patience, equity — without those a dance falls apart.”
Gibney is more than a dance school. Yasemin Ozumerzifon, director of community action, says it has worked with survivors of intimate-partner violence since 2000 and realized a few years ago that they also wanted to focus on prevention through dialogue with young people.
“Hands are for Holding” held its first assembly in 2014, in conjunction with Day One, a youth-focused organization aiming to end dating abuse and domestic violence. The program expanded this year thanks to the Mayor’s Grant for Culture Impact, which funded six-month partnerships between city offices and cultural organizations. Gibney, along with six other groups, was one of the first to receive this $50,000 grant.
Day One is excited to be featured in a Vice on HBO web segment. Check it out here.
We asked experts to share their insight into why financial abuse occurs, warning signs, and advice for recovery:
Why financial abuse occurs
Stephanie Nilva, Executive Director of Day One: "Financial abuse is one of many ways abusive partners attempt to control others. Creating financial dependence can isolate the victim and cause them to rely on the abusive partner more heavily. Without friends or family for support, the survivor has much more difficulty ending the abusive relationship. Sometimes there might be cultural or gender 'norms' about who is the wage-earner taken to an unhealthy level."
“If young people perceive that their friends think that dating violence is acceptable, they’re more likely either to experience or perpetrate violence,” said Bachman. “Dispelling this myth that it’s normal to experience that in your relationships is really important, because people are having that validated as normal all the time by the people around them.”
Nationally, one in three teens reports dating abuse. And reports in physical dating violence have risen in the city over the past 20 years, according to Day One. There are 1,400 calls every month from teenagers to the NYC Domestic Violence Hotline. In the past six months, a Brooklyn teen was allegedly killed by her ex-boyfriend and a Queens man was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 15-year-old girl he met online.
Studies show that comprehensive sex education can reduce dating violence by as much as 60 percent. While four in 10 New York City students don’t receive comprehensive sex education in school, educators and nonprofits are pushing to teach consent to all children starting in elementary school.
While the #MeToo movement has largely focused on adult perpetrators, children and adolescents who engage in sexual harassment, bullying and abuse can also leave their victims with deep and lasting scars. Experts say today’s murky consent culture prevails in adulthood because these behaviors aren’t being addressed in childhood — a pivotal time when kids are learning social norms and developing their sense of identity.
Research shows that 43 percent of middle school students experience sexual harassment from their peers. And a third of teenagers report experiencing relationship abuse. Rates may be even higher in kids with disabilities and those who identify as L.G.B.T.Q.
Instead of waiting to have “the talk” until adults think it’s age-appropriate, consent education should start at the earliest age possible and remain a constant lesson through childhood and adolescence, said Jett Bachman, a youth educator at Day One, a nonprofit organization that works with youth to promote healthy relationships and end dating abuse.
These lessons can start at the most basic level of teaching respect for physical boundaries, said Mx. Bachman, who uses the gender-neutral honorific. For example, rather than pressuring pre-school-age children to hug relatives or adults they don’t know, adults might suggest alternatives like a high five or a wave. This gives children agency in deciding when and how they want to physically interact with other people.
For kids in elementary school, Mx. Bachman said incorporating the word “consent” into their vocabulary will encourage them to apply it to all areas of their lives. In learning to ask permission to use a classmate’s toy, for instance, they learn that all people have a right to their belongings and their own private space. By the time they reach their teens, these lessons can be extended to their relationships.
Ten to 11 years ago, I was invited to MC an event because the original person who was supposed to MC canceled. The organization was called Day One, and they teach domestic violence awareness in public schools in New York. … One young lady after the next started telling their story about being a domestic violence survivor… I’m standing there hearing all these stories knowing that my sister was murdered. … Finally, I just blurted it out, when I got up to the podium, I said, ‘My sister was murdered.’ I knew that there were signs of domestic violence in the home. I lived in Chicago, [and it was] specifically this moment [that] I knew: I heard a commotion in my house. I ran downstairs and my sister and a significant other was there. She had a huge knot on her head, the table had been knocked over—it was just a horrible scene. I said, “What’s going on here!” And he said, “Oh she fell over the table.” I knew that was a lie. I grabbed her, and I got a broom and started to threaten him, like, Get out of my house. … I went upstairs and nursed my sister, put her to bed… I woke up the next morning and he was back in my house, in bed with my sister. I kicked them both out.
When you think about domestic violence, you may think of married couples, or longtime partners, or grownups, at least. But it turns out that teen relationships aren’t immune from emotional and physical abuse, either.
I would venture to guess that many of us don’t think about this all that often, but we should.
Being a teenager is hard enough. Trying to figure out who you are and where you belong. The brand-new romantic feelings. Talking to parents can be hard. It’s easy to get in over your head and become isolated.
And abusers take advantage of all of these things.
According to a company called Day One, “1 in 3 teens report experiencing some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships.” One. In. Three. That’s the disturbing statistic that ends the powerful video that Day One just released in February which is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
“We really don’t see clients anymore that aren’t experiencing some sort of abuse that isn’t based in the use of technology,” says Stephanie Nilva, the executive director of the anti-domestic violence youth organization Day One. Digital abuse can include constant texting, geolocation tracking, and the release of revenge porn, she notes.
Technology can intensify harassment and stalking because it increases an abuser’s access to their target. Nilva says her organization, which provides education and remediation to people 24 and younger, often helps clients remove spyware or keyloggers from their phones, get revenge porn taken down from social media platforms, or removes sockpuppet accounts that purport to be the client and spread harmful content to their friends and family.
We recently spoke with Michele Paolella, LMSW, director of social services and training at Day One (a New York-based nonprofit organization focused on domestic violence and sexual assault among young people), about ways to support victims of sexual assault and trauma—and avoid re-traumatizing them.
Survivors of sexual assault and harassment are our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members, and despite our good intentions, there might be some things we’re doing that could inadvertently make their situations harder.
Greatist: The first question for friends and family members of survivors of sexual assault is often "now what?" What do we do next?
Michele Paolella: If your friend or a family member has just told you that they experienced a sexual assault, the first thing to do is take a deep breath and ground yourself so that you are able to deeply listen to what they are sharing with you. You don't have to have all the answers at your fingertips; listen to really hear and not to respond.
Remember first and foremost that a survivor of sexual assault has been through an experience that took away their power and control, and the healing process can start as soon as they are able to regain some of the power and control that was taken from them. This means that no matter how tempted you may be to tell them what to do ("Call the police, get to the emergency room, etc."), it's better to support them in making their own decisions.
“It can feel challenging to balance the desire to send young children positive messages around consent and their body autonomy with the fact that they still need adult guidance and assistance with many daily tasks and survival," Bachman says. “If a child is being asked to do something but doesn't want to, it is important that adults take their reservations/refusals seriously, ask about/listen to their concerns, and explain why exactly it is important that they do what is being asked of them.”
Bachman explains that with very young children who are not yet expressing themselves with many — or any — words, this will look slightly different, but should still include the same reflection and explanation process on the part of the adult, like giving a step-by-step explanation while changing a child’s diaper.