Domestic violence victims get help from feds, state government

May 2, 2013 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Victims of domestic violence will be getting much-needed assistance from the government – at both the federal and state levels – as a package of legislation and a grant make their way to local officials.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg) recently announced that he helped pass legislation in the assembly to provide more assistance to, and increase protections for, victims of domestic violence.

“Domestic violence can take on many forms and can wreak havoc on families on both a physical and psychological level,” Lentol said. “It affects all types of households regardless of age, race or income, oftentimes leaving a long-term impact on victims and their families. It’s our responsibility to crack down on domestic violence and help victims of such abuse in any way that we can.”

The legislative package would, among other things: prohibit employment discrimination against domestic violence victims; prohibit housing discrimination against victims of domestic violence by forbidding landlords and property sellers from denying an individual the right to purchase or rent housing; require orders of protection issued in family court to be interpreted into the native language of the individuals involved; and        require hospitals to establish procedures regarding domestic violence, establish ongoing training programs on domestic violence for staff and designate a hospital staff member to coordinate services to victims.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Each year, roughly 450,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported New York State, Lentol said.

“The damage caused by domestic violence can be extensive and in many cases goes beyond physical abuse,” Lentol said. “Victims often do not have a support network or much-needed resources during this time,” he said.

The bill’s supporters expressed confidence that it would be passed by the state senate.

Help for victims is also coming from the federal level in the form of a $200,000 grant from the US Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.

U.S. senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced last month that Brooklyn has been named a recipient of the grant. The senators were joined by Borough President Marty Markowitz and Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes when they made the announcement.

Technically, the grant is being awarded to Markowitz, who has agreed to turn the funds over to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. The grant is part of the Justice Dept.’s Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative. The Brooklyn DA’s office will use the money in collaboration with Safe Horizon, a local nonprofit domestic violence service provider, to implement domestic violence homicide reduction and prevention models and evaluate how well they work in different communities.

“Protecting women from abusers and predators is an enormous priority, and this investment for research will improve safety and response for Brooklyn residents who are victims of violence, abuse and assault,” Schumer said.

“It is critical that we provide victims of sexual and domestic violence with the support and safety they need. This federal investment will help provide the resources Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz and District Attorney Hynes need on the ground to effectively implement programs to advocate, counsel, and support Brooklyn women and their families,” Gillibrand said.

“This funding will continue to support Safe Horizon‘s important work, safeguarding and educating women in destructive relationships and putting a stop to the atrocity that is domestic violence and abuse,” Markowitz said.

Hynes noted that his office is one of only 12 in the entire country to be chosen for the project.

“I want to thank Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz for acting as our grantee and for agreeing to transfer these funds to my office and Dr. Richard Peterson, Ph.D.  New York City Criminal Justice Agency for his invaluable assistance and to Safe Horizon so we can identify ways in which we can increase services to domestic violence victims in Brooklyn and to their surviving children,” Hynes said.

In the first twelve-month phase of an initiative, the Brooklyn DA’s office and its partners will conduct a comprehensive assessment of shelters’ response processes and systems.



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