According to YWCA Mohawk Valley (YWCA MV), local providers of domestic and sexual violence services, Sunday’s murder of 17-year-old Bianca Devins provides a glaring picture of the magnitude and devastating toll that intimate partner and gender-based violence can take.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 76% of women who are murdered by an intimate partner were stalked first.
For teens, stalking is an increasingly prevalent signifier of a dangerous relationship because of the many advances personal technology has made in recent years. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 26% of young women who experience some form intimate partner violence, including stalking, had experienced it before the age of 18.
“We are saddened by this tragic loss,” says YWCA MV CEO Dianne Stancato. “Our hearts go out to Bianca’s family and friends through this unimaginably difficult time.”
In 2018, YWCA MV provided advocacy services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence over 13,000 times throughout the year and answered more than 2,000 calls to our crisis hotlines.
“While we know the statistics are staggering,” says Stancato, “we know that prevention education is key to addressing the egregious issues of dating and intimate partner violence.”
How can we stop teen dating violence before it starts? According to YWCA MV, education on both healthy and unhealthy relationships from the beginning is essential.
Supporting the development of respectful and nonviolent relationships from the beginning enables young people to grow healthy relationships and learn the skills they need to maintain those relationships, such as open communication. Education surrounding red flags of violent relationships is also an essential tool for young people when dating and meeting new people.
YWCA MV offers education surrounding healthy relationships, domestic violence, and more. The agency also provides shelter and housing programs to individuals fleeing domestic violence as well as counseling services to survivors.
For anyone looking for crisis services, call one of the agency’s free and confidential 24-hour hotlines. For domestic and sexual violence services in Oneida County, call 315.797.7740. For sexual violence services in Herkimer County, call 315.866.4120. Additional information about YWCA MV is available at ywcamv.org.