New York City has achieved major public safety milestones in the last year — murder rates are the lowest they’ve been since the 1950s, and other major felonies like rape, grand larceny, and car theft have decreased across the board. While these accomplishments are certainly worth celebrating, domestic violence crimes are displaying an opposite trend, increasing at an alarming rate.
Occurrences of domestic abuse and domestic violence-related deaths in New York City have continued to rise despite overall decreases in other local crime rates. For example, rates of family-related homicide in New York City increased by roughly 28 percent from 2015–2016, constituting a larger percentage of the city’s murder rate over the past several years. During the same time period, the number of reported domestic violence incidents between intimate partners in New York City increased by nearly 23 percent — and we can expect that this upward trend in reported occurrences will continue as individuals are empowered to speak out against their abusers in the wake of national grassroots movements like the #MeToo campaign and powerful statements from high-profile role models.
Overall, what these increasing statistics demonstrate is that domestic violence is a persisting public health crisis in New York City, regardless of decreases in other types of crime. It’s encouraging to see that Mayor Bill de Blasio has doubled down on tackling this epidemic through new legislation and a commitment to reframing New York City’s approach to combating domestic violence, however, truly eradicating abuse also requires awareness and action at the community level.
One barrier to community understanding and awareness is the fact that the pervasiveness of domestic violence in New York City and across the country is difficult to fathom, even when actual numbers are provided. 12 million people are impacted by intimate partner violence each year in the U.S. — this number sounds like a lot, but what does it really mean? What does it look like? To help visualize the scale of this issue, we have created the infographic below as an educational resource using more tangible comparisons.
A sold out show at Madison Square Garden still isn’t large enough to fit the number of individuals abused by an intimate partner on any given day in the United States.
The New York City Domestic Violence Hotline receives 48x more calls than the amount of space readily available to victims of abuse at local emergency shelters.
These comparisons may seem shocking, but they illustrate the substantial impact of domestic violence.
It is critical that every organization, business, governing body, family, friend, and neighbor within our city and throughout the entire country are committed to combatting domestic violence. Together, we can better define and understand the issue and provide the necessary resources so that all domestic violence victims recognize the signs of abuse and feel empowered to escape dangerous relationships. Only then will we see rates of domestic violence deaths and incidents rightfully decline alongside other crime rates.
For more information about URI’s domestic violence services and the issue itself, please visit http://www.urinyc.org.