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NYC Pilot Program Links Domestic, Community Violence Solutions

The New York City violence intervention and prevention organizations We Build The Block and Brownsville In Violence Out have organized a "talking circle" as part of a pilot program called Heal the Ville, which allows communities to have discussions, The Trace reports. The hope is that it will reduce violence between intimate partners, and in doing so, will prevent violence in the streets, too. It’s among the first community-based programs to view the two traditionally siloed forms of violence, community violence and domestic violence, as explicitly interconnected and to take a combined approach to preventing both. First, they say that helping people cope with conflict in their domestic relationships will prevent those conflicts from spilling into the streets and affecting others. Second, teaching people to work through the trauma of community violence they have experienced will make it easier for them to build healthier romantic relationships. “I’m gonna harm those close to me if I don’t have that therapy,” said facilitator Javon Lomax. “If I don’t have that outlet, then my mom’s here, or my girl’s here, somebody gotta get it. Somebody gotta get this frustration.” And third, reducing domestic violence means more kids growing up in stable, peaceful homes. That will make them less likely to seek love and affirmation from street gangs or crews when they’re older, organizers say.

Domestic violence and community violence make up much of the nation's gun violence other than suicides. The two forms of violence, which are often treated as separate and disconnected, are in fact closely intertwined. Domestic violence charges constitute the largest proportion of criminal cases in Kings County Court, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said. His office conducted an analysis of open gun cases, and found that some 20 percent of defendants had a history of family or intimate partner violence in the preceding five years, he said. The number is likely an undercount because many domestic violence cases are sealed soon after they are decided. “We see, definitely, a link between issues that people have in their homes, family violence, and ultimately the trauma that leads people to then engage in gun possession or gun violence,” Gonzalez said. “If we care a lot about reducing violent crime in our community, we have to start dealing with family violence and intimate partner violence in the home.” There has been little research on the direct links between domestic violence, particularly intimate partner violence (IPV), and broader community violence, in large part because research on gun violence, in general, is limited, said University of California, Davis researcher Shani Buggs. But the research that exists says that the two are associated: Communities that see high rates of community violence often have high rates of IPV, too. They also share risk factors including poverty, lack of resources, limited job opportunities, and prior exposure to violence.


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