Earlier this year, I joined my colleagues from the Assembly Minority Task Force on Domestic Violence to announce our findings that resulted from a statewide study conducted in 2017. Our report is a collaboration from domestic violence survivors and advocates, law enforcement and others who attended the hearings and shared their experiences with us. As you can imagine, these heartfelt testimonies were very moving and further convinced me that more must be done to end domestic violence in our state.
The recommendations compiled in our report, A Safe Haven: Helping Abuse Victims and Enhancing Protections, offers multifaceted solutions to better support victims, enhance law enforcement’s ability to protect the public, and prevent widespread abuse and violence throughout our community. Some of the recommendations include:
- increasing funding for temporary housing and crisis centers;
- creating new categories of domestic violence crimes;
- enhancing orders of protection;
- reforming bail and temporary spousal/child support;
- creating batterer intervention programs;
- strengthening mandatory reporting requirements;
- training to better help identify and support victims;
- developing school curriculum to teach children about domestic violence prevention; and
- greater public awareness efforts.
While I will continue urging the state to adopt these recommendations, there is more we can do individually to provide immediate help. One way you can help is by signing my petition for Albany to enact the Domestic Violence Prevention Act. Another way is by donating items to my upcoming Personal Care Drive. After the success of our Winter Clothing Drive, I spoke with many of the shelters and organizations that received those warm winter clothing items and learned that personal care items, such as soap, toothpaste and other personal hygiene products are greatly in need by these organizations in our community. When in crisis, many domestic violence victims, predominantly women and children, are unable to provide these essentials for themselves and therefore they are in very high demand from shelters, crisis centers and other support organizations.
That’s why, starting on March 27, I am partnering with organizations throughout our community to hold our first Personal Care Drive. You can drop off items at my office in Clarence (8180 Main Street) or at the Lockport City Hall, Lockport Town Hall or Newfane Town Hall through May 2, 2018.
The generosity of our community continues to be unmatched, and I know that by working together we can better support those in our community who are facing violence at home. Of course, I encourage everyone to do what they can to make their home a safe and healthy place, but if you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, please call the state’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906, visit their website at www.opdv.ny.gov or contact your local law enforcement.
As always, I welcome your input and suggestions and hope you will continue to share them with me online (Facebook or email me at email@example.com) or call me at (716) 839-4690.