Captiol News from The Assembly Minority Conference
The Assembly Minority Conference

Recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Weekly Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a critical time to shed light on an issue that affects countless individuals and families across the nation.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S., adding up to more than 10 million women and men annually. It is also important to acknowledge domestic violence is extremely underreported. Fear, stigma and lack of support often prevent victims from coming forward. Further, the NCADV estimates only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries, and many cases never make it to the attention of law enforcement. An analysis completed by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reported that since 2019 the number of domestic violence victims has increased by an alarming 8.5% in New York City and 8.7% throughout the rest of the state. A link to the report can be found here. 

Counties throughout New York state offer a variety of resources for those in need. One such organization, Oswego County Opportunities (OCO), has been an advocate addressing domestic violence issues for many years. OCO is dedicated to empowering individuals, supporting families and building communities while offering a wide range of services designed to help survivors of domestic violence. Some of these services include emergency sheltering, counseling, support and advocacy. If you or a loved one needs support, more resources and how to get involved can be found at Oswego County Crisis & Development Center.

Jefferson County, too, offers critical support services through its Victims Assistance Center. This center provides mental health services, information on protection orders, safe shelters and 24-hour hotlines. They also hold local events in the communities to raise awareness for domestic violence and its survivors. Back in 2021, the agency started the initiative “Behind Closed Doors” to gather community support for those in need. More helpful information and resources can be at the Victim’s Assistance Center.

Further, Cayuga County offers a multitude of support for victims, such as the Cayuga Seneca Community Action program and other counseling services. A guide to some helpful resources can be found on the county’s website. I remain fully committed to supporting the efforts to help those struggling with this ongoing problem.

While many services are available at the local level, state policymakers have a responsibility to help in the fight against domestic violence. In 2017, the Assembly Minority Conference hosted roundtable discussions across the state to hear from victims, advocates, service providers and law enforcement about their first-hand experience dealing with the issue. We remain fully committed to supporting victims and efforts to curb domestic violence. These efforts include legislation pertaining to: 

  • Domestic Violence Committed in the Presence of a Child – Provides a harsher penalty for intentionally committing an act of domestic violence in the presence of a child who is 15 years of age or younger (A.2634, Giglio).
  • Domestic Violence Crimes – Creates a Domestic Violence Crime, which provides an enhanced penalty for a person who intentionally commits a specified offense against a member of the same family or household (A.2485, Giglio).
  • Permitting Hearsay Evidence – Allows social workers or victim’s advocates to provide hearsay testimony regarding factual circumstances warranting the issuance of an order of protection (A.2399, Giglio).
  • Temporary Spousal Support – Permits a family court to award temporary spousal support in conjunction with the issuance of a temporary order of protection to aid victims of domestic violence who face financial burdens when an order of protection is issued against a spouse (A.2430, Giglio).
  • Order of Protection Extension – Assists victims of domestic violence who petition family court by extending the effective dates of orders of protection for two additional years in extreme cases (A.5151, Giglio).
  • Temporary Housing Extension – Allows for three 45-day extensions to the maximum time allowable in an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence (A.2671, Giglio).
  • Enhances Penalties - Provides enhanced penalties for those who habitually commit crimes against members of their family or household. Requires courts, when determining recognizance or bail in domestic violence cases, to consider risk factors which could lead to intimidation or injury by the defendant to the victim or witness. Imposes an additional domestic violence surcharge on offenders for the purpose of providing additional training to members of law enforcement on domestic violence issues. (A.3385, Gallahan).

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month and beyond, it is crucial to recognize the signs of abuse and know where to turn for help. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, do not hesitate to seek assistance. You can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233; its dedicated professionals are ready to provide the support and resources needed to break the cycle of violence and build safer, healthier communities for all. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of survivors and work towards a future free from domestic violence.