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New Domestic Violence Ads Tell New Yorkers 'Don't Mind Your Own Business'

By Jill Colvin | May 9, 2012 8:16am
The new campaigns tells New Yorkers not to mind their own business if they suspect abuse.
The new campaigns tells New Yorkers not to mind their own business if they suspect abuse.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

ONE POLICE PLAZA — City officials unveiled a new public service campaign Tuesday that aims to fight increasing domestic violence by encouraging New Yorkers to report signs of abuse to police.

The “Don’t Mind Your Own Business” campaign urges New Yorkers to call 911 if they suspect a potential case of domestic abuse, which has seen a disturbing rise in recent years.

“Silence is an accomplice to the crime of domestic violence,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who unveiled the new ads at NYPD headquarters Tuesday as part of a renewed push to tackle the crime.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that, too often, incidents of domestic violence go unreported, even though neighbors and colleagues suspect something is wrong.

“We know that victims of domestic violence are often so terrorized and afraid, it’s hard for them — and sometimes maybe even impossible for them —  to reach out for help,” she said.

“We’re asking New Yorkers to do something they’re pretty good at. We’re asking them not to mind their own business."

The ads, which began appearing on bus shelters, phone kiosks and newsstands across the city Tuesday morning, have been printed in three languages — English, Spanish and Russian — to reflect communities with the highest rates of violence, officials said.

Unlike the city's recent anti-obesity, anti-smoking and anti-binge drinking campaigns, the new ads rely on words instead of graphic images.

NYPD responses to domestic violence incidents have been on the rise across the city, increasing from 234,988 responses (or more than 600 a day) in 2008, to 257,813 (more than 700 a day) last year.

At the same time, the number of family-violence-related deaths has spiked from 63 in 2009 to 92 in 2011 — a 46 percent jump.

Most of the cases involved individuals who had never previously been reported to police, Kelly said.

To combat the trend, the NYPD has recently stepped up efforts, adding 32 new sergeants to supervise domestic violence efforts, and re-instituting Domstat, a system modeled after CompStat, to track cases and their handling.

The department has also extended its outreach to high-risk victims, including working with them to produce a book with information including a personalized safety plan, a list of places to go in case of emergency, and code words for alerting friends and family.