Posted on February 1, 2022 at 6:00 am
Domestic violence (DV) hurts thousands of women, children, and men in Spokane County every year and often goes unseen and unheard (download Confronting Domestic Violence flyer).
The Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition (SRDVC) is a partnership among many people and multiple organizations in Spokane. The coalition has developed a strategic plan to End the Violence in our communities and to advocate for the voice and needs of DV victims and survivors.
As part of the strategic plan, SRDVC has recently implemented a new Youth Violence Prevention Program funded through grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Commerce (DOC).
Youth violence across Spokane County has increased over the last several years. The rate of domestic violence calls to law enforcement in Spokane County is nearly twice as high as the rate for the state of Washington, and the trend has only worsened over time.
More than 2,000 children are victims or witnesses of violence each year. Children who witness domestic violence are 1,000 times more likely to be abused or abusive as adults (Spokane Regional Health District, 2017).
Nearly half (45%) of Spokane’s youth reported experiencing at least one violence-related incident, such as involvement in a physical fight, gang membership, bullying, physical abuse, or intimate partner violence (Spokane Regional Health District, 2017).
According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 11 female-identifying youth report experiencing physical violence from a dating partner in the last few years, while 1 in 14 male-identifying youth report the same experiences. This also includes 26% of women and 15% of men who were victims of sexual violence by an intimate partner before the age of 18 (CDC, 2022).
SRDVC’s Youth Initiatives, along with the support from funders and community members, hope to address the issue of youth violence in our community in an impactful and trauma-informed manner.
SRDVC is implementing plans in alignment with the 5-year strategic plan that will lead to an increase in youth support and a decrease in youth violence in high-risk Spokane communities.
This year, SRDVC and North Central High School are working together to begin implementing the Green Dot curriculum, which supports schools and students in identifying violence in their community. Green Dot will help students identify violent behaviors, recognize red flags in relationships, and know who to talk to for help.
By bringing Green Dot into the school, we begin to support a strong culture of respect and safety.
The Handle with Care initiative enables local law enforcement to notify school districts when they encounter a child at a traumatic scene, so school personnel and mental health partners can provide appropriate trauma-sensitive interventions immediately. The initiative’s goal is to set schools up to help children exposed to trauma maintain focus, behave appropriately, and succeed academically.
Handle with Care ensures that children’s needs are being met physically as well as emotionally so that when children are identified as needing additional support, referrals can be arranged.
As SRDVC’s Youth Coordinator, I am working with local agencies and schools to develop prevention tools, establish relationships, and work with youths involved with gangs and other high-risk activities. By focusing on mentorship, leadership development, and positive social interactions, these efforts empower youth to speak up for change and amplifies their voices.
Encouraging strong community support has proven to decrease youth violence and increase community engagement.
Teen dating violence can occur in a multitude of ways.
Imagine you are a teen who is at the beginning stages of a relationship. Your partner begins showering you with gifts, sweet words, and is also someone you can always count on. As time goes on, you notice your partner begins to change the way they treat you.
Your partner begins to call you multiple times a day. They start sending hundreds of texts demanding to know where you are and who you’ve been with. Your partner has access to all your social media and begins monitoring your activity. These behaviors escalate and your partner begins to message all your friends asking about you, wondering where you are and who you are with. They become critical and disapproving of your actions, your beliefs, and even the way you dress. Soon you begin to realize that this isn’t a relationship you want to be in and ask to end things. But your partner refuses to let you go and retaliates by starting rumors about you, digitally stalking you, and/or harassing you at school or work.
Unfortunately, this scenario is just the tip of the iceberg of what partner violence may look like.
Youth dating violence can be experienced in many ways. The most common are physical aggression, sexual violence, psychological violence, and stalking.
Equipping Spokane’s youth with information about dating violence and what healthy relationships look like and by making helpful community connections to serve youths will decrease youth violence in Spokane county.
During the month of February, SRDVC is looking forward to working with local youth, schools, and community centers on a positive and engaging project that focuses on helping youth understand and engage in healthy relationships. Youth ages 13–19 will have an opportunity to submit an original meme for the What Does Love Meme to You project and be recognized for their work as part of this project.
Additionally, SRDVC encourages everyone in the community to wear orange on Wednesdays throughout the month of February to raise awareness and show support for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
SRDVC is fully committed to Ending the Violence within the Spokane Region.
We recognize that this work includes youth as they are impacted by violence, abuse, and trauma. Engaging our youth in this work is a positive and rewarding way to impact the future of Spokane.
SRDVC encourages parents, teachers, guardians, and all community partners who work with youth to understand the importance of supporting our youth as they navigate dating relationships.
With your help, we can work collectively to End the Violence in Spokane.
If you want to learn more about domestic violence, how to help victims, and/or how to support the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition, you can visit our website at www.endtheviolencespokane.org.
Ingrid Rivera is the Youth Coordinator for the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition. Ingrid has dedicated her work as a mental health advocate supporting first generation students and those in the LGBTQIA2S+ community. With an educational background in law and justice and social work, she is committed to continue supporting all youth in the community. For her self-care, Ingrid enjoys spending time with her family and her two dogs, Nala and Riley.