Op-Ed | We cannot stop domestic violence without stopping gun violence

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October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a pivotal moment for our city to shine a bright light on a prevalent, yet often overlooked crisis. The month presented an opportunity to have honest, transparent conversations about the real ways domestic violence continues to be pervasive in our society and culture. More importantly, it allows us to bring government, nonprofits, and the private sector, and more to the table to talk about real solutions to the domestic violence crisis. With the start of a new month, we cannot stop the vital work that needs to be done to end the root causes of domestic violence. 

The answer is clearer now more than ever — we cannot talk about domestic violence without also talking about gun violence. 

Gun violence and domestic violence are inextricably linked and for too long have been siloed in our public health and public safety discussions. The facts speak for themselves. In the United States, nearly seven in ten mass shooting incidents involve a shooter who has a history of domestic violence. Eight in ten mass shootings occur entirely in the home where family members, intimate partners, and children are the victims. The intersections between domestic violence and gun violence extend beyond mass shootings. The same communities who bear the brunt of daily gun violence often suffer the most severe forms of domestic violence.

Our Black and Brown communities have been disproportionately impacted by both domestic violence and gun violence. These impacts include higher rates of trauma, compounded by experiences of historical and structural violence. When left unaddressed, these factors can lead to an unhealthy relationship dynamic that often perpetuates cycles of abuse. These dynamics are not gender-specific and can cause harm leaving. New Yorkers to experience the trauma of violence.

Violence is a deadly disease that can infect and impact anyone. However, diseases can be treated, cured and, even, prevented. Domestic violence and gun violence stem from similar root causes, and require overlapping upstream solutions. These solutions include building systems of support for children and adults through community- and school-based mentorship, mental health, healthy relationship, and employment programming. They include wraparound services, such as case management, counseling, and housing assistance. New Yorkers deserve diverse resources in service of everyone impacted by violence, including those who have caused harm in their relationships.

In the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic Gender-Based Violence, we are at the forefront of building a broad coalition of people with lived experience and expertise to bring real change. One example of this is Man Up! Inc. — one of the city’s many community-based partners that provides job assistance, after-school programs, mediation, and outreach to shooting victims and individuals who may be at high-risk of using a gun and causing harm in the community. Man Up! hosts fatherhood initiatives and weekly group therapy sessions for male individuals who cause harm, directly engaging with the toxic masculinity that lives at the heart of gun and domestic violence.

Our office is implementing our own programs that can prevent and respond to both gun violence and domestic violence along with bringing a multi-agency approach. Through our Early Relationship Abuse Prevention Program, we are working to promote healthy relationships and conflict resolution in our schools. We are providing community-based support and resources to individuals who have caused harm through our abusive partner intervention program Respect and Responsibility. We are also working to integrate domestic violence services into the City’s efforts to reduce gun violence through our partnership with the RISE Project.

There is more work to be done.  But by investing in and partnering with communities, families, and individuals impacted by violence throughout our city, we can prevent and reduce domestic violence and gun violence together. If you or someone you know is seeking support around domestic violence, free and confidential help is always available. Find resources and support in NYC by searching the NYCHope Resource Directory, or call 311 to be connected to the nearest NYC Family Justice Center.

Cecile Noel is the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, and AT Mitchell is the Co-Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and CEO of Man Up! Inc.

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