By Christina Nordvang Jensen

The past years there has been an increase in the number of reported domestic violence victims. The newest data from New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services shows a 25% increase. In 2009 there was 25,761 cases reported in New York City. In 2013 the number was 32,324 which is 6,563 more reported incidences.

Victims of domestic violence in New York City Create line charts

But how come?

According to the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence it is difficult to say with accuracy which factor is affecting the increase. “We don’t know with a 100 percent what is causing the development. One can be that more people are reporting domestic violence because of increased community awareness and support. Another can be that abuse incidents are increasing,” says a press representative from Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

Law enforcement officials have said that a big reason for the increase was a 2008 change in law redefining what an intimate partner is. Before the change, couples living together were not counted under the domestic violence law. Domestic violence was considered only an attack on a current or past spouse, someone with a child in common or people related by blood or marriage. The new law covers those in an “intimate relationship,” including teens, gays and lesbians, and heterosexuals who are just dating.

The city will provide more help

From 2002 to 2009, New York City added 628 beds for domestic violence victims and their children, according to data provided by the Human Resources Administration. Since then, the city has added no beds or units. Something many organizations have been criticizing. But in 2016 there will be more help for victims of domestic violence. Because of the increase the city has decided to provide more shelters for survivors of domestic violence. It will add space to serve a total of about 13,300 children and adults a year, a 50 percent increase over the current 8,800 individuals served yearly.

“We see more people reaching out for help. Therefor it is important to provide more service to the ones that are in a critical situation,” says a press representative from Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city is expanding the number of shelters he said in a statement:

“It is our responsibility to ensure that victims of domestic violence have the resources and support they need”. “With this significant expansion – the largest increase in recent history – we’ll be able to provide both the space and specialized services to help survivors of domestic violence rebuild their lives”.

Primary cause of murders of women

It is especially women who are victims of domestic violence. According to data from New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services 17,621 women reported domestic violence in 2013. In 2009 that number was 14,360. But also more male victims are in the statistics today. In 2009 there was 2,776 cases reported . In 2013 it increased to 3,564.

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It can have fatal consequences for the women who are victims of domestic violence. It is the primary cause of murders of women in New York City. In 2012, 68% of all murders of women in New York City were related to domestic violence, according to data from NYPD.

A report released in February this year from the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence found that nearly two of every three victims of domestic violence-related homicides among adults were women.

But even though the report shows a depressing picture for the women who are victims of domestic violence the general number of people who are dying in domestic violence-related attacks is looking better. Homicides involving intimate partners fell 41%, from 41 in 2002 to 24 in 2013.

One of the places that a lot of domestic violence is reported is at public housing. This year, almost 34 percent of all the crime that occurs at public housing developments is domestic violence-related. And it is still the women that mostly are represented in the statistics.

Councilman Ritchie Torres is pushing a proposal to force the NYPD to publicly report incidents of domestic violence at public housing developments to assess why and where the problem has become more severe. He believes that it will raise awareness and break the silence.