“Don’t Mind Your Own Business,” is the mantra of a new ad campaign asking New York City residents to take a stand against domestic abuse.
The campaign is being pushed by New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Ads written in English, Spanish and Russian will be placed on bus shelters, phone kiosks and newsstands throughout high-risk areas in the five boroughs. The campaign targets residents to report signs of possible abuse in their neighborhoods. Commissioner Kelly believes the responsibility of reporting domestic abuse lies in large part on the community.
Police Commissioner Kelly puts some of the onus of domestic abuse on the neighbors, “Silence is an accomplice of domestic violence.”
The campaign is part of an effort to combat growing instances of domestic violence and murder in the city. According to the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, family violence related deaths have been steadily increasing annually:
- 2009 – 63 deaths
- 2010 – 77 deaths
- 2011 – 92 deaths
The majority of these cases had no known prior police contact and no current order of protection. The NYPD response to domestic violence incidents have been increasing as well:
- 2008 – 234,988 (more than 600/day)
- 2009 – 250,349 (more than 650/day)
- 2010 – 249,440 (more than 680/day)
- 2011 – 257,813 (more than 700/day)
The Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Yolanda Jimenez said it is important the campaign targets the neighbors of abuse victims.
“There have been homicides that have taken place where we later read that a neighbor heard someone crying out, and was hesitant to call the police,” Jimenez said, “They felt maybe they shouldn't get involved.”
In many cases abuse victims are too scared to contact the police. According to Jimenez, only about 23% of people murdered by their spouse have reported an instance of domestic abuse. Jimenez believes there are many factors that prevent someone from reporting domestic abuse such as fear of losing financial support or just not wanting to be responsible for an arrest.
“Domestic violence is very complicated. It's not like reporting a crime on a stranger,” Jimenez said, “You're going to be calling the authorities on someone that is the father of your children, someone that you lived with, someone that you married.”