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Stopping a dangerous domestic violence trend

October 21, 2009

20-somethings lead the nation as victims of relationship violence
In America

By keito

October has been National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States since 1987.  As such, I wanted to bring attention to how domestic violence is affecting people in our age group in the United States, knowing that this is a serious problem that begins early on in men and women’s lives.

For both men and women, the rates of (non-fatal) intimate partner violence are highest among 20 to 24-year-olds; the age group with the next highest rate is 25 to 34.

Help your generation and others:

– Report acts of domestic violence by calling 911

– If you think a friend or family member will not believe or help you, don’t give up until you find someone who will. Call a local or national hotline like U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)

– If you are in an abusive relationship or situation, remember that your abuser may be tracking your computer activities, and clearing cookies or website histories may also tip him or her off; for more information…

– Visit the DVAM tips page to learn how to keep yourself safe from an abuser

Until I researched this, I had no idea that people in their twenties were the worst-affected by known acts of non-fatal domestic violence caused by a relationship partner.  Intimate partner violence, as it is termed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, refers to violence perpetrated by “current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends, including same sex relationships,” and is a problem that is extra-worthy of our attention.  Unlike violence by strangers and friends or acquaintances (the rates of which have all dropped significantly since 1993), intimate partner violence rates have dropped relatively little from ’93 to 2005.

For both men and women, the rates of (non-fatal) intimate partner violence are highest among 20 to 24-year-olds; the age group with the next highest rate is 25 to 34.  The rates of DV by a boyfriend or girlfriend have also increased over the course of the twelve-year study.  Unfortunately, this information is not only little publicized, but what we do hear about DV focuses on the acts of violence, rather than the recovery of the victim and the services that exist to help them.

DV is always on the mind of the government and judicial system, but these pro-active efforts occur with hardly a ripple in the public knowledge.  I had no idea that the recent government stimulus, which had plenty of media coverage surrounding it (including lots of gripes about the cost and what it would used for), gave an additional $325 million to support the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).  According to a proclamation by President Barack Obama, these funds will “enable States, local governments, tribes, and victim service providers to retain and hire personnel that can serve victims and hold offenders accountable. These funds will also bring relief to victims seeking a safe place to live for themselves and their children.”

Like me, you might not have heard or read about any of that on local or national news coverage, but you’ve probably heard plenty of reports this month about victims and arrests related to DV or relationship DV.  After all, one-third of homicides in which the victim is female are the result of intimate partner violence, and television shows like CSI are full of such crimes.  They make for gripping TV and sensational news, sure, but meanwhile, did you know you were in the worst-affected age demographic?  Were you taught how to spot domestic violence or what services are available to you if you realize you’re a victim?

If you remember the commercials from the 90s about DV, including the one where a couple in a hotel could hear a woman in the room above them being beaten (and couldn’t seem to decide whether to call 911), you should also remember that not all violence is physical. 

“In [intimate partner violence] abusers use control, rape, power, manipulation, isolation, lies, intimidation, weapons, economic control, harassment, verbal and emotional abuse, racism, and coercive and violent actions against their partners. IPV does not necessarily leave a visible wound or bruise,” reminds a fact sheet on The Domestic Violence Awareness Month website.

I would encourage every person reading this article to check out some of the other resources made available on their website, including the “General and Internet Safe Dating Tips” for those who are on the market, to be pro-active with your knowledge and to report DV when you see it’s happening to you or to others.  There are laws to protect victims and to prosecute abusers, and every person in their 20’s should be ready to use them in order to reduce and reverse the trends of this statistic.

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One Comment
  1. Julienne permalink
    November 10, 2009 11:21 pm

    Just heard about this site on the news: http://www.loveisrespect.org. Country singer, Martina McBride, is active with the group, as I understand it.

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