Commemorating Black History Month and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
February 1, 2023
Each February, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) recognizes both Black History Month and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. These commemorations—and the intersections they spotlight—help the domestic violence movement continue working toward a world where all survivors are supported, and where the needs of marginalized survivors (including Black survivors, teen survivors, and Black teen survivors) are centered.
More than half of non-Hispanic Black women (53.6%) and men (57.6%) in the United States have reported experiencing contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetimes. Black women are three times more likely than white women to be killed by a male intimate partner, and Black LGBTQ+ survivors are nearly twice as likely to experience physical violence from a partner than those who are not LGBTQ+ and Black. (Learn more in these factsheets from Ujima: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community.)
Historically, despite these alarming statistics, the mainstream of the movement to end gender-based violence has continually harmed Black victims and survivors through continued reliance on the criminal legal system and other systems that exacerbate violence and trauma. Moreover, too few dollars, both public and private, are directed to culturally specific programs serving Black survivors. NNEDV knows there is always more work to be done, and we are committed to supporting and learning from Black-led domestic violence organizations to bring about the change our movement needs.
I am proud of NNEDV’s collaboration with a number of Black-led organizations, including those working to support Black survivors of domestic violence, in order achieve our shared goal of reaching more survivors. These important partnerships include:
- Black Women’s Blueprint to update our Positively Safe training materials and resources in order to highlight racial disparities and cultural differences for survivors living with HIV;
- Rwanda Women’s Network to expand our international work at the intersection of domestic violence and HIV/AIDS;
- SisterLove to develop and pilot Positively Safe more than a decade ago, and to create content and materials on social determinants of health and health equity; and
- Ujima: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community as one of our culturally specific technical assistance partners and collaborator on various programmatic and policy work.
This month—and throughout the year—I invite you to support these organizations, follow them on social media, sign up for their emails, and get engaged in their essential work.
More than half of female victims (70%) and male victims (60%) of contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States have reported experiencing this violence for the first time before age 18. Among high school students in the U.S., Black and multiracial youth have reported dating violence at greater rates than their Hispanic, white, and Asian peers.
Younger survivors may not have the necessary information and experience to identify abusive behaviors, and enduring abuse early in life—especially without access to resources and support—can make it difficult for them to heal and thrive in healthier relationships later. Young Black survivors in particular may be less likely to feel comfortable seeking support from formal sources (like school counselors) because of concerns about confidentiality.
According to our 16th Annual Domestic Violence Counts Report, throughout the year, 82% of participating domestic violence programs across the United States provide support or advocacy to teen and young adult victims of dating abuse, and 80% provide prevention and/or educational programs. These essential services can help connect younger survivors with resources and help them identify abusive and unhealthy behaviors early, before an abuser escalates their behavior. However, these services are at risk when programs don’t have enough funding to continue them, which puts younger survivors and their communities at increased risk.
Technology also plays a role in younger survivors’ experience with abuse—whether abusers are choosing to misuse tech to cause harm, or whether survivors are leveraging tech to access resources and stay connected with supportive friends and family members.
NNEDV’s teams are doing important work to support young survivors and the advocates who help them. Our Safety Net team offers a number of Teens and Technology resources, including a Tech Talk about Teen Dating Violence and Digital Breakups, co-presented by Tonjie Reese of eleven24. This video helps advocates and young people understand what a healthy relationship looks like, along with safety planning tips for younger victims. Our WomensLaw website has a section with Information for Teens and Young Adults, and young survivors with legal questions can always reach out through the WomensLaw Email Hotline if it’s safe for them to do so.
Thank you for joining NNEDV this February as we commemorate both Black History Month and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. We invite you to follow along as we share more content on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter throughout the month.
For peace and safety,
Deborah J. Vagins
NNEDV President and CEO