Yesterday, LAYC with many community partners* hosted an event in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The event Speak up, Speak out: Mobilizing Youth for Love and Respect for teens and young adults highlighted the impact of domestic violence among teens. Despite tornado warnings and lots of rain, it warmed my heart to see over 100 youth participate in the day's events. They all gathered together, male and female, gay and straight, and Latino, African American, and multi-racial youth.
I often think about the issues our young people have to deal with like unemployment and homelessness. But honestly, I don't spend enough time thinking about teen dating violence and domestic violence and its impact on the lives of our youth and young adult couples.
Here are some startling statistics** that note the urgency of the situation for young teens and young adults in our country today.
- Teens who suffer dating abuse are subject to long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide, and violent behavior.
- 33% of adolescents in America are victim to sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional dating abuse.
- In the U.S., 25% of high school girls have been abused physically or sexually. Teen girls who are abused this way are 6 times more likely to become pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- Females between the ages of 16 and 24 are roughly 3 times more likely than the rest of the population to be abused by an intimate partner.
- Teens who have been abused hesitate to seek help because they do not want to expose themselves or are unaware of the laws surrounding domestic violence.
I know that many LAYC youth represent one or more of these alarming statistics. And yet, I know that the youth who walk through LAYC's doors are so much more than a statistic, yet their lives are framed against these challenges. They know that we are here to help them out of this situation, but I know that not every youth has a place like LAYC in their lives.
I am proud of our staff and our colleagues who daily highlight the urgency of this situation. I am proud of our young people who came to our event yesterday to speak out so they, their mothers, or their friends do not become a statistic. I am proud of the young men who participated yesterday in support of their girlfriends, sisters, and classmates. These young people are not silent bystanders. Their awareness, their actions, their advocacy, their speaking out, and their voice can and will change the world! Join me and SPEAK UP AND SPEAK OUT so that not one more person will fall victim to these statistics.
* DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Collective Action for Safe Spaces, Break the Cycle, Safe Spaces DC, WK Foundation, DC Rape and Crisis Center.
**For more facts with sources: https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-teen-dating-violence