Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
Irene Mackey, Development Intern
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month! While we are eager to share the importance of this month, the prospect of teen dating violence is one that is all too real for many young people today. Unfortunately, if you are old enough to date, you are old enough to potentially suffer from domestic violence.
Dating at a young age can be a wonderfully awkward experience. Between the ages of 14-18 dating finally starts to feel tangible. Hopes are high that you will meet someone nice, smart, who you have a lot in common with. Dating is something that’s very important to many high school and college students, and we all dream of one day marrying our high school sweethearts. Realistically speaking, it doesn’t always end up this way. But looking back, most have fond memories of their younger days and relationships.
However, this isn’t true for everyone. In fact, according to The Bureau of Justice and Statistics, and Intimate Partner Violence in the United States (2004) “Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, almost triple the national average”. These numbers are the very harsh reality. Violent behavioral issues often start as young as age 12, long before our brains have fully developed, but just a few years before we usually start dating. The University of California San Francisco reported that among students between the ages of 15-20 who reported at least one violent act during their dating relationship, 24% experienced extremely violent occurrences such as rape or the use of weapons against them.
Young men and women aren’t always equipped with the right resources and information to help themselves if they are in a violent relationship. It can be difficult to fully grasp that you might be in trouble, how to get out of the relationship, or who to talk to if you need advice. That’s where we come in, at the Prudence Crandall Center we offer resources that will help you to understand that you are not alone, that there are other alternatives, and that you are not a victim, you are a survivor. We have a 24-hour helpline that is there to help people just like you. If you are in need of speaking with someone, we have certified Domestic Violence Counselor available, as well as access to our confidential, emergency shelter. We are here to make you feel heard, and to make you feel safe again.
NEW BRITAIN — Like shelters for victims of domestic violence around the state, the Prudence Crandall Center has been running at, or over, capacity consistently for at least the past year and a half.
It’s a trend that has been escalating since 2008 and it doesn’t appear to be subsiding, said the center’s executive director, Barbara Damon.
“The need has continued to grow and that’s happening statewide,” Damon said.
Not only has the demand for shelter statewide increased 125 percent since 2008, the demand for services including support groups, court advocacy, counseling, safety planning and basic needs has also risen.
“The number of domestic violence victims seeking safety in our emergency shelters has grown immensely over the past eight years,” said Karen Jarmoc, chief executive officer for the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Abuse, the umbrella agency that encompasses the state’s 18 domestic violence programs, including Prudence Crandall.
“Our shelters were at 57 percent capacity in FY (fiscal year) 2008 and now we’re at 125 percent. These women, men and very young children have nowhere safe to go. We are continuously reviewing strategies to sustain this life-saving service,” she said.
Prudence Crandall Center runs a 22-bed shelter, transitional housing and permanent housing for individuals and families seeking to escape abuse and move on with their lives. It also offers support groups, counseling, court advocacy and other services for victims in New Britain, Plainville, Southington, Bristol, Plymouth, Kensington, Burlington and Terryville.
Damon admitted that she doesn’t have a concrete answer as to why the need for shelter has increased so much in the past eight years. “I haven’t seen anything to indicate that there is more violence,” she said.
But there has been more education and more awareness that services are available — from counseling to shelter — and a push by local police departments to use a lethality screening tool when they respond to a reported domestic violence incident. About half the police departments in the state use the tool, which is a set of 11 questions for the victim to determine the potential lethality of the domestic relationship.
Police can call the state’s 24-hour domestic violence hotline to help victims arrange for emergency shelter based on the tool, Damon said.
An average of 14 people a year have died from 2000 to 2014 in Connecticut as a result of domestic violence, according to information gathered by the state’s fatality review board. In the past few years, however, the number has gone down to 11 or 12.
“Lethality screening hopefully has contributed to fewer deaths,” Damon said.
All victims seeking emergency shelter must go through the hotline. Victims don’t need to be referred by police or by the state’s 211 system which helps residents seeking shelter of any type find emergency housing.
Damon said the key to reducing the need for emergency domestic violence shelters is to stop the cycle of domestic violence through education and awareness. “I know we have to address the trauma of domestic violence for victims and their children,” she said. “But we also need to be in the schools and to provide programming for youth on healthy relationships.”
But with the state facing another year of budget deficits, Damon is concerned about cuts and what less money would do to a shelter system that is already over-stressed. “Any cut at this point would mean a cut in services,” she said.
About 25 percent — $450,000 — of the agency’s budget comes from donations. The reality is it needs more, Damon said, to continue to work within the community to help victims and provide education and awareness to stop the cycle of domestic violence. “We need that amount in donations just to keep on doing what we’re doing,” she said.
If you need help with domestic violence, call the state’s 24-hour hotline at 888-774-2900. Services are free and confidential.
To donate to Prudence Crandall, visit prudencecrandall.org.Read More
Prudence Crandall Center (PCC) held it’s annual “Silent No More” Candlelight Vigil on Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm to remember those who have lost their lives in the past year due to domestic violence in our state, and to raise awareness about this widespread issue impacting all of our communities. The Vigil was held at PCC’s Rose Hill Campus, located at 594 Burritt Street in New Britain. The event was open to the public.
This year, the Ryan T. Lee Memorial Foundation is the Vigil’s first-ever Community Partner Sponsor. As such, the foundation is playing a critical role in supporting PCC’s efforts to raise awareness and prevent future violence. Ryan T. Lee Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the enduring spirit of a special young man by actively seeking out opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others.Read More
The organizers for the fourth annual Hoops for Homeless basketball extravaganza accept a $5,000 donation from the Petit Family Foundation.
NEW BRITAIN — Dr. William Petit understands that kids who are homeless face greater obstacles when it comes to getting an education.
He also knows that the fourth annual Hoops for Homeless basketball extravaganza slated for April 30 on the streets of downtown New Britain will go a long way toward helping homeless kids get a leg up when it comes to school and having a stable life. (more…)Read More