Each year, approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner. In addition, a survey of 500 teen and young adults, 57% percent waited six months or more before seeking any help while 40% hadn’t talked to anyone about abusive behavior in their relationship.
This Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), we’re centering the unique needs of runaway and homeless youth (RHY) experiencing relationship violence, particularly Black and Trans youth living at the intersections of multiple forms of oppression. Young people who have run away from home or are homeless or unstably housed are far more vulnerable to dating violence and victimization than their stably housed peers (Lee & Schreck, 2005). Far too often, the youth who are most vulnerable to abuse also face the most obstacles to getting help.
This is particularly true for young people on the margins. According to the Toolkit, “LGBTQ youth are more likely to leave home as a result of physical abuse and conflict with family.” In addition to interpersonal violence, these young people are often faced with homophobia, transphobia, racism and anti-Blackness, and other forms of oppression. Although research is limited, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center notes that “Black young people, especially Black men who identify as LGBTQ, experience the highest rate of homelessness,” with around 16% of Black LGBTQ young people experiencing homelessness in a recent study (NSVRC, 2020).