October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Statistics and resources as they relate to the African-American community.

Posted: 10/06/2014 10:00 AM EDT

Over the past few months, amid Ray Rice’s brutal beating of his then-fiancé and now wife, Janay Rice, the media have been inundated with stories about intimate partner and domestic violence. And given that October is National Domestic Violence Month, even more much needed attention will be focused on this issue as well, which is particularly important to us.

Domestic violence is not new or rare to the Black community. Actually, African-American women are more vulnerable to this type of abuse than our white female counterparts.

According to statistics from the American Bar Association's Committee on Domestic Violence:

—Overall, African-Americans were victimized by intimate partners at significantly higher rates than persons of any other race, between 1993 and 1998. Black females experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35 percent higher than that of white females and about 22 times the rate of women of other races. Black males experienced intimate partner violence at a rate about 62 percent higher than that of white males and about 22 times the rate of men of other races.

—African-American women experience significantly more domestic violence than white women in the age group of 20-24.

—Approximately 40 percent of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18; the No. 1 killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.

Other stats to keep in mind:

—Black women are three times more likely to be killed by their partner than white women. Also, Black women account for 8 percent of the population, but account for 22 percent of the homicides due to domestic violence, says recent data from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

—The CDC reports that 1 in 11 adolescents say they have been the victim of physical dating violence; a separate survey indicated that one in four teens self-report physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse every year.

—African-American and Latino students report higher rates of dating violence than white students. Healthy or unhealthy relationship habits develop early.

—Adolescents who reported being physically hurt in a dating relationship were also more likely to report that they engage in risky sexual behavior, binge drink, use drugs, attempt suicide and participate in physical fights.

Sadly, many women and girls who are in these types of relationships are unaware that they are being abused. Domestic violence and abuse can look like a lot of things on top of physical abuse. Here are some other signs that your partner is abusive: 

— Checking your cellphone or email without permission

— Constantly putting you down

— Extreme jealousy or insecurity

— Explosive temper

—  Isolating you from family or friends

—  Making false accusations

—  Mood swings

—  Physically hurting you in any way

—  Possessiveness

—  Telling you what to do

If you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence, know that it is not your fault and you are not alone. Talk to an adult, teacher or call one of the resources below for help.

— National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

— National Sexual Assault Hotline: (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

— The Trevor Hotline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (Geared toward LGBT youth)

— National (Teen) Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474

To learn more about teen dating violence and what healthy relationships look like, go to loveisrespect.org.

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(Photo: GettyImages)

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