According to the CDC, 26% of women and 15% of men have experienced intimate partner violence for the first time before the age of 18. That translates to more than 1 in 4 women and more than 1 in 8 men. If that ratio doesn’t shock you, we need to talk. And if it does shock you, we need you to be talking with the people in your life. But before any of us start the conversations, let’s get personal.
Think about your family and friends of every age. The people you care about and count on. The people who care about and count on you. How many female-identified and male-identified people does that include? Break it down – how many are 18 and over, and how many are under 18? Now consider that 1 in every 4 of your female-identified people, and 1 in every 8 of your male-identified people have (if over age 18) experienced intimate partner violence, or will experience intimate partner violence before their 18th birthday.
Take a moment to picture your ‘age 18 and over’ people in your mind, all of them. Who among them do you know or imagine to be the 1’s in every 4 or the 1’s in every 8 who have experienced intimate partner violence? Are you a 1? Now, can you allow yourself to picture all of your ‘under age 18’ people? Who among them are you willing to sacrifice to the statistics? If you are uncomfortable enough to want to lighten the mood a little bit right now, you might jokingly pick out one or two as a way of discharging your discomfort. But the truth is, intimate partner violence is no joke.
I hope you are willing to be uncomfortable long enough to join us in starting the conversations and keeping them going. Together we can be the change that changes the story in our community. Contact us @ www.berksteensmatter.org or follow us @ www.facebook.com/berksteensmatter for more information and resources. If you or someone you know is experiencing or has experienced intimate partner violence, contact www.safeberks.org for services and support.
By Nadine J. Smet-Weiss, Community Liaison
Translated by Johnathan Rodriguez-Baez, HRC and Youth Ambassador Coordinator