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Domestic abuse survivor tells tale in Brooklyn courts

October 29, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Kings County Civil Court Gender Fairness Committee and the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association hosted a discussion with Phyllis Hall, a survivor of domestic violence, to help raise awareness. Pictured are (standing from left): Hon. Ingrid Joseph, Renee Williams, Hon. Theresa M. Ciccotto, Hon. Genine Edwards, Turquoise Haskin, Tyedanita McLean, and Assistant Deputy Chief Clerk Lena Ferrera. (Sitting from left): Carl Joseph, Phyllis Hall and Hon. Evelyn Laporte. Photos by Rob Abruzzese.
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The Kings County Civil Court Gender Fairness Committee and the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association (BWBA) hosted a discussion with a domestic violence survivor on Wednesday to help raise awareness of the issue. The special meeting was held on Livingston Street.

“It’s about power and control — they want the victim to do something by inflicting threats, physical abuse, emotional abuse — and it goes on and on and on,” said New York State Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Laporte. “Victims of domestic violence are all ages, backgrounds, religion and race. I’ve known victims as young as 14 and as old as 92. It can happen to anyone.”

Justice Genine D. Edwards, chair of the Kings County Civil Court Gender Fairness Committee and board member of the BWBA, opened the program with a few remarks. She was followed by Carl Joseph, program director at Jericho Road, and a conversation between Justice Laporte and Phyllis Hall, a domestic violence survivor. Justice Ingrid Joseph gave closing remarks. 

During the discussion, Hall recalled her life that started with physical abuse from her mother and siblings, which led to abuse from her husband of 17 years and eventually spread to her daughter, who was abused by her own husband. 

“I was born in domestic violence, I was raised in domestic violence, and as the pattern went on, I ended up marrying into domestic violence,” said Hall. “That’s my story, and I’m telling it so that I can help somebody, because every day, you hear about people dying and being killed because of domestic violence, but I’m a survivor. 

“I’m here to tell everyone that you don’t have to stay there,” Hall continued. “You can stand on your own and you can live. We were created to be loved, cared for and provided for.” 

Throughout the discussion, Laporte explained that many of the situations Hall described are themes that many people face when in a violent relationship. She mixed into the conversation many statistics about domestic violence, including the fact that an estimated two to three million women around the world suffer from it every year. 

“I want to commend Ms. Hall for coming forward and talking about her experience when she was a victim of domestic abuse, because it is difficult for many victims to talk about their experience,” Laporte said. “She has committed to help others in the same situation. A lot of times we don’t know what our friends, neighbors [or] co-workers are going through because they don’t talk about it.”

The purpose of the program was to bring awareness to the issue. Victims of domestic violence often feel isolated and have trouble speaking about their problems with other people. A lot of emphasis is put on what to look for and how to help people, which has made a difference, as many more victims come forward today than had in the past. Still, the court wants to do its best to make sure that domestic violence is an issue that people know about and are reporting, because some victims are still suffering in silence.

“This is a topic that affects all of us in some form or fashion,” Hon. Ingrid Joseph said in closing. “It may not affect you directly, but [may be affecting] a family, friend or coworker. We hope that this is helpful in an instance where someone comes to you for help. We want to thank Ms. Hall for her courage in getting out of her situation and helping others.”

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