New York State's Response to Domestic Violence: Systems and Services Making a Difference

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Dear Colleague:

I am pleased to provide you with the premiere edition of the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) publication, New York State's Response to Domestic Violence: Systems and Services Making a Difference. It identifies and highlights the vast work performed in New York State to respond to domestic violence. It provides information on federal, state and local funding, training, services, and creative strategies used to address this issue. Because of its overlap with domestic violence, information on sexual assault has also been included. It has long been my commitment and challenge to create a single document that represents the totality of work being accomplished in the State of New York to end violence against women.

OPDV is excited to distribute this comprehensive statewide publication. There has never before been a document of this magnitude. However, despite all attempts to capture every program or response, it is inevitable that there may be efforts not yet identified and therefore not included in this publication. We invite you to assist us in this endeavor by telling us about unique, innovative and creative strategies being embarked on in your communities for possible inclusion in future editions.

New York continues its commitment to end violence against women. From a Governor who insists on "zero tolerance" and maintains a State agency to address domestic violence, a Legislature that has passed hundreds of bills to assist victims and to hold offenders accountable, lawyers providing pro bono legal services to victims, and programs providing life saving services every day, we have accomplished a great deal. We need to continue, however, to listen to and learn from women who are abused to guide our future efforts. New York has been fortunate to receive millions of dollars in funding, however, there is so much more that needs to be accomplished. While systems have trained a multitude of responders, there are still those who need to be reached. Programs have sheltered thousands of women and children, and thousands more victims need our assistance. Indeed, our work is more critical than ever.

It is not feasible for one system alone to respond to domestic violence. Domestic violence affects us all. Whether in the workplace, medical community, criminal justice system, school or spiritual community, there is an opportunity to make a difference. We all have a part to play in ending it. New York is a leader in making a difference. With your help, we will continue to lead change to move ever closer to our goal of ending violence against women in New York State.

Sherry Frohman, LMSW Executive Director

This publication was developed by the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV)

Authors/Editors

Suzanne Cecala, Program Administrator, Communications and Public Relations

Mary M. Walsh, Program Administrator, Community Coordination

Project Director

Gwen Wright, Director, Training and Policy Development

Acknowledgments

OPDV would like to thank the agencies that developed material and provided information for this publication. They are: Center for Court Innovation, Empire Justice Center, New York City Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence, NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault, NYS Crime Victims Board, NYS Department of Health, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, NYS Office of Children and Family Services, NYS Office of Court Administration, and NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

OPDV would also like to thank the New York Prosecutors Training Institute, NYS Department of Corrections, NYS Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, the New York State Police, CASA: Special Advocates for Children (CASANYS), and the Legal Project for their assistance in the development of this publication.

Special thanks to: Deborah Vogel, OPDV Legislative Program Administrator, for her assistance in the development of this publication, especially the Legislation section; Kim Oppelt, Bureau of Justice Funding, Violence Against Women Unit, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, for providing information and reviewing the final document; and OPDV staff who contributed to the development of this publication, including Deborah Jakob, Pattie Lis, Sue Parry, and Wendy Passero.

Finally, OPDV would like to thank the advocates throughout the State who work tirelessly to ensure that the voices of victims and their families are never lost.

©2006

by NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Permission to copy, use, and distribute information contained in the publication New York State's Response to Domestic Violence: Systems and Services Making a Difference is hereby granted without fee for personal, private, and educational purposes, except that reproducing information for profit or any commercial use is strictly forbidden without specific permission from the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV). Any reproduction or distribution of information must expressly credit OPDV in a prominent way likely to inform any recipient as follows:

From the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. New York State's Response to Domestic Violence: Systems and Services Making a Difference. 2006.

This statement does not pertain to information in this publication that is credited to other sources, such as web sites.

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Executive Summary

Domestic violence has long been a private problem with public implications. Since the turn of the twentieth century, activists - from prohibitionists to suffragists to civil rights leaders to feminists - have been diligent in bringing this social issue to the forefront of the political and public policy agenda. In doing so, we have learned that this is an issue that affects every sector of our society.

Since the late 1970's, New York State has taken up the challenge of responding to the needs of victims of domestic violence. Since the opening of the first domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn in 1976, residential services have been a priority. Today, New York has 2,768 shelter beds available in a total of 132 licensed residential programs across the State.

New York State also boasts an extensive sexual assault network. According to the NYS Department of Health, 77 rape crisis centers responded to 18,409 hotline calls and provided intervention and counseling over 140,000 times in 2005*, alone.

In the last ten years, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has allocated more than five billion dollars to locales across the country with one mission in mind - to stem the tide of violence against women. New York has received millions of dollars in direct funding from the federal government. In 2005, the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, the State administering agency of the VAWA STOP Violence Against Women Program, distributed over five million dollars to support law enforcement, prosecution, sexual assault and domestic violence programs throughout the State. In addition, several municipalities and/or victim advocacy programs received Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies (GTEAP), Legal Assistance for Victims awards, Grants to Reduce Violent Crimes Against Women on Campus, Education and Technical Assistance Grants to End Violence Against Women with Disabilities, Transitional Housing Assistance awards, and others as part of the VAWA grants program. New York was also the recipient of funding for two of the fifteen Family Justice Centers in the country. These "one stop shops," located in Brooklyn and Buffalo, coordinate various services under one roof.

New York State also spent over $103,000,000 in government and private revenue in 2005 on services for victims of domestic violence and their children. New York State agencies such as the Office of Children and Family Services, Crime Victims Board, Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Department of Health and others disseminated millions of dollars in funding to communities in New York State to support domestic violence and sexual assault efforts on the local level.

To ensure that all professionals are afforded consistent information and training to enhance their response to victims of domestic violence and their families, New York has made training a priority. In 2005, thousands of professionals around the State received specialized training. These trainings were designed to increase the awareness and skills of police officers, child protective workers, Department of Social Services staff, health care workers, advocates, probation and parole officers, and mental health professionals.

The criminal justice system has been a hallmark in the response to domestic violence. New York State's Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act of 1994 revolutionized the criminal justice response to domestic violence by establishing mandatory arrest in domestic violence cases and enacting other groundbreaking provisions. Many police departments and prosecutors' offices have established specialized domestic violence and sexual assault units. In addition, there were 28 Integrated Domestic Violence Courts and 25 Domestic Violence Courts in New York handling criminal and civil matters across the State in 2005.

Since the establishment of the Domestic Incident Report, New York has taken a giant step in documenting the incidence of domestic violence for the first time ever. Approximately 450,000 incidents are reported to police departments each year, and we know there are many more incidents that never come to the attention of the criminal justice system. From its inception through 2005, 1,411,264 orders of protection have been entered into the NYS Family Protection Registry.

New York has been a leader in the development of public awareness campaigns over the years. In 2005, a focus on teens led to the award-winning poster with the theme, "You are not his property," featuring a young woman with a bar code across her forehead. This poster was featured in shopping mall kiosks across the State and received wide approval. In partnership with the NYS Broadcasters Association, New York was also able to develop radio spots that featured the message, "If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't."

All of these accomplishments come about due to the dedication and commitment of public and private individuals and organizations. And while they are many, there is a lot yet to be done. Gathering and compiling all of this information is complicated by the fact that the system in New York is so complex. Much as victims and survivors must navigate a host of agencies to get what they need, so would anyone who is looking for a snapshot of the State's response to domestic violence and sexual assault. Services are paid for by one agency, but regulated by another. Several different agencies provide funding for services, each with different reporting requirements. As a result, agencies keep their statistics differently. Some agencies count individuals served, while some count the number of times they provide services, even if it is to the same person. Some criminal justice agencies are unable to communicate electronically, yet may be serving the same family. With so many different funding streams - federal, state, local communities - an accurate total of all funding in the state is elusive. This publication is the first attempt to begin addressing these concerns, while highlighting the achievements made by such a great state. We are committed to helping agencies streamline information to make reporting and providing accurate information more possible.

All New Yorkers should be proud of the strides that have been made in this arena, and should continue to work together to ensure that New York remains a leader in responding to violence against women.

*Whenever possible, data reported in this publication is from 2005.

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Domestic Violence - An Introduction

Understanding why domestic violence occurs is critical if we are to succeed at the enormous challenge of ending it. Domestic violence is rooted in a long history of oppression.

Social values and beliefs have long supported the notions that women and children are the property of men, that men have the right to control their wives and children, that men have the right to have sex with their wives, and that husbands can give their wives "correction" as necessary to maintain family order and their own authority.

This belief system prevailed in other arenas, such as religion. In marriage, a father "gave away" his daughter to the groom, representing the transfer of property from one male to another. Rape was not a crime against the female victim but a crime against the father or husband. (This is still true today in other parts of the world, where women who are raped are subsequently murdered in "honor killings" because they have brought dishonor to the family.)

About 150 years ago, people began to move toward finding violence against women unacceptable. By the 1880s, many states in the United States had laws restricting rights of men to "chastise" wives and children, but usually either the laws were not enforced or those in violation of the law were not punished. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was adopted, giving women the right to vote. Interestingly, the suffrage and prohibition movements occurred simultaneously, as temperance leaders believed the organized suffragists could help them achieve their goals and women reformers thought alcohol was a causal factor in wife beating and child abuse, which it is not.

In the 1960s, child abuse began to be addressed as a major social issue, through programming, legislation and policy initiatives. The abuse of women by their partners (husbands or otherwise) however, remained in the shadows. The attitude prevailed that women somehow brought the abuse on themselves and, unlike abused children, women were thought to be responsible for the violence perpetrated against them.

In the early 1970s, women began to create a grassroots, informal network of services, safe homes and local domestic violence hotlines, to provide support to the growing number of women being battered who were calling rape crisis hotlines seeking help and safety. As the magnitude of the problem became clear, a range of services, including a network of shelters, was developed to begin to address the safety needs of victims of domestic violence. In its initial stages, these were almost entirely volunteer efforts, with little or no stable funding. The last 30 years have seen enormous progress, but there is still much more to be done.

Timeline
  • 1976: The first domestic violence shelter opened in New York City.
  • 1977: State funding was provided for shelters and victims of domestic violence. A law was passed allowing married victims of domestic violence to file criminal charges against a spouse.
  • 1978: The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) was established.
  • 1979: The NYS Governor's Task Force on Domestic Violence was created.
  • 1981: The NYS Domestic Violence Hotline was established.
  • 1983: The Governor's Commission on Domestic Violence was created by Executive Order, replacing the Task Force.
  • 1984: People v. Liberta: NY's highest court made marital rape a crime, striking down the "marital rape exemption" on the grounds that it denied equal protection of the laws to married women.
  • 1985: The NYS Spanish Domestic Violence Hotline was established, the first in the nation.
  • 1987: The Domestic Violence Prevention Act permanently funded emergency shelters for victims through local Departments of Social Services.
  • 1987: The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) was established.
  • 1992: The NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) was created by statute, replacing the Commission. New York became the only state with an executive level state agency dedicated to addressing the issue of domestic violence.
  • 1994: The Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act brought about the development of the Order of Protection Registry; Domestic Incident Reporting System; Victims' Rights Notification; mandatory arrest; training for judges, law enforcement personnel, and district attorneys; and the addition or revision of several crimes under the NYS Penal Law.
  • 1994: The federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created the first legislation acknowledging domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes and provided federal resources to encourage coordinated community responses to domestic violence.
  • 1995: Governor Pataki made prevention of domestic violence a priority, declaring a policy of "zero tolerance" for domestic violence in New York State.
  • 1997: The Model Domestic Violence Policy for Counties was introduced.
  • 1998: The statewide public awareness campaign and school-based prevention projects were established.1999: A law making stalking a felony was passed.
  • 2000: The Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA) was passed, enacting sweeping changes in the state's rape, sexual assault and child sexual abuse laws.
  • 2002: A law requiring all current and new Child Protective Service workers to be trained on domestic violence issues was passed.
  • 2005: VAWA was reauthorized.

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What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive tactics that can include physical, psychological, sexual, economic, and emotional abuse, perpetrated by one person against an adult intimate partner, with the goal of establishing and maintaining power and control. Domestic violence occurs in all kinds of intimate relationships, including married couples, people who are dating, couples who live together, people with children in common, same-sex partners, people who were formerly in a relationship with the person abusing them, and teen dating relationships.

Legally, domestic violence is more complicated to define because there is no specific crime of "domestic violence" in New York State law. Whether it is a victim's husband or a stranger who assaulted her, the elements of the crime are the same. However, the way the offense is addressed by the courts is in fact, somewhat different, depending on the relationship of the victim to the abuser. Domestic violence is handled through the criminal courts and the Family Court as a "family offense." A family offense is defined as certain acts/crimes delineated in the Penal Law (such as harassment, menacing, assault, and stalking) committed by a family member (individuals who are married, related by blood or who have a child in common). Victims who meet this definition may go to criminal court to seek an order of protection and have the abuser prosecuted, or they may go to Family Court for an order of protection, services, and assistance with custody and child support. Individuals victimized by an intimate partner who does not meet the definition of family member, such as a boyfriend or same-sex partner, can only go to criminal court for legal assistance. In addition, mandatory arrest, which applies when an abuser violates an order of protection or commits certain other offenses, is only applicable when a case involves individuals who meet the family definition. Many police departments in New York State, however, use an expanded definition of family when making mandatory arrest determinations. This provides greater protection to victims who fall outside of the New York State definition, although these victims still do not have access to Family Court.

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Mission Statement of the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence: To promote positive social change through actions that develop leadership, resources and collaboration within and across communities to end domestic violence and the underlying social tolerance that perpetuates it.

The State of New York is committed to having an official, governmental response to domestic violence. The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence was created in 1992 with a mandate to guide the State's program and policy efforts, evaluate and strengthen the service system, coordinate the efforts of public agencies that provide services or funding for services, and provide centralized training and education on domestic violence. It replaced the former Governor's Commission on Domestic Violence, established in 1983.

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) is an executive-level state government agency located in Albany. In 2005, OPDV had an annual budget of $2,493,610 and has a staff of 29 employees. The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services is the host agency for OPDV, providing administrative support. OPDV maintains a satellite office in New York City, primarily focusing on health care. This office is supported by the New York State Department of Health. To respond to the many systems that victims of domestic violence encounter, OPDV addresses a wide array of disciplines through training and technical assistance, legislation and outreach, including: community coordination, police, legal system, courts, prosecution, legal services, community corrections, probation, batterer programs, health care, mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, child protective services, social services and the workplace.

OPDV Highlights

Policies:

OPDV had an integral role in developing policies and protocols that provide direction for systems to respond appropriately to domestic violence:

  • Model Domestic Violence Policy for Counties (see page 11)
  • Domestic Violence and the Workplace: Model Policy for State Agencies
  • New York State Model Domestic Violence Policy: Guidelines for Employers
  • Medical and Legal Protocol for Dealing with Victims of Domestic Violence
Legislation:

OPDV was involved in the development and implementation of the following laws:

  • NYS Stalking Law
  • Mandatory training for child protective workers
  • Partner Notification of HIV/AIDS Act
  • NYS Welfare Reform Family Violence Option (FVO)
  • Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act
  • Evaluation of the mandatory arrest provision of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act
Public Awareness and Education:

OPDV's efforts include:

  • Campaigns featuring billboards, posters and bumper stickers
  • Teen dating violence poster contests
  • Radio public service announcements targeting men, featuring Tiki Barber of the NY Giants and Joe Torre of the NY Yankees
  • Award-winning radio public service announcements and mall kiosks targeted to teens
  • Twice-yearly Bulletin with state-of-the-art coverage of domestic violence issues
  • Workplace project: print materials for employers and employees
  • Award-winning guide for victims - "Finding Safety & Support"
  • Mailings to schools
  • "Peace at Home" license plate
  • OPDV web site
Training:

OPDV takes the lead in providing state-of-the-art training to a wide variety of professionals including child protective workers, police and probation officers, health care professionals, judges, district attorneys, social workers, mental health and substance abuse professionals and many others.

Cross-systems collaboration:

OPDV has collaborated with government and private agencies on numerous VAWA-funded projects, including:

  • Probation Domestic Violence Intervention Project
  • Safety and Accountability Audit Project
  • Rural Domestic Violence Project
Representation on Workgroups and Advisories:

OPDV staff members serve in a collaborative capacity by participating in a number of task forces, workgroups, and advisory committees. A sampling of these groups includes:

  • VAWA Advisory Committee
  • CASANYS (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) Curriculum Development Advisory Committee
  • Crime Victims Board Advisory Board
  • Domestic Incident Report (DIR) Workgroup
  • Children and Family Trust Fund Strategic Planning Workgroup
  • New York Capital District Anti-Stalking Task Force
  • Interagency Offender Re-Entry Task Force
  • Children's Justice Task Force
  • NYS Elder Abuse Coalition
  • NYS Adult Abuse Training Institute
  • NYS Victim Assistance Academy
  • NYS Integrated Domestic Violence Courts Advisory

Additionally, it is OPDV's practice to ensure that domestic violence is brought into the conversation at other statewide advisory committees and workgroups convened to address related issues. This includes:

  • Providing testimony to the NYS Unified Court System Matrimonial Commission, which examined the divorce process in New York State and made recommendations to correct systematic problems;
  • Providing input into the development of the parent education manual created by the NYS Parent Education Advisory Board;
  • Participating in NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services' Project IMPACT, which focuses intensive criminal justice resources into specific NYS communities; and
  • Working with the NYS Attorney General's Crime Victims Advisory Board.

All of these efforts are aimed at ensuring that State policy makers working on related issues are made aware of domestic violence and the potential effects of their work on victims and their children.

Advisory Council: The legislation that created OPDV also established an advisory council, whose goal is "to make recommendations on domestic violence-related issues and effective strategies for the prevention of domestic violence; to assist in the development of appropriate policies and priorities for effective intervention, public education and advocacy; and to facilitate and assure communication and coordination of efforts among state agencies and between different levels of government, state, federal, and municipal, for the prevention of domestic violence." The membership of the advisory council is made up of representatives from relevant state agencies and nine members who are appointed by the Governor to serve three-year terms.

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Model Policy

One of the most significant influences on the current response to domestic violence in New York State was the Model Domestic Violence Policy for Counties. OPDV's enabling legislation included a provision to convene a task force to develop a model county domestic violence policy which would "provide consistency and coordination by and between county agencies and departments. . .by municipalities or other jurisdictions within the county and other governmental agencies and departments, by assuring that best practices, policies, protocols and procedures are used to address the issue of domestic violence." The Model Policy for Counties was produced and distributed in 1998 to domestic violence service providers; county executives, judges and district attorneys' offices; local departments of health, mental health, probation, substance abuse and social services; NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) regional offices; NYS Employee Assistance Program (EAP) regional offices; legislators; participants of the local community forums; New York State agency heads; national domestic violence organizations and others.

For the first time, communities were provided with definitive guidance from the State identifying recommendations for their local response to domestic violence, which they could use as a resource on an ongoing basis. It represents the collective best thinking of New York State counties, a statewide task force, OPDV's Advisory Council, and extensive public comment received from communities across the State. Integration of the policy recommendations into local community responses help to ensure that best practices, policies, protocols, and procedures are used throughout the State of New York to address the issue of domestic violence.

Legislation

Each year, legislation is passed by the NYS Legislature and signed into law by the Governor. Some of the new laws are designed specifically to address problems faced by domestic violence victims. Other laws are intended to assist a broader range of crime victims. Still others may not focus on crime victims, but are also noted because they have the potential to impact the lives of domestic violence victims. Significant 2005 laws of importance to domestic violence victims are listed below:

2005 Domestic Violence and Related Laws

Mandatory Arrest Extension - Chapter 56 A.6840 / S.3666 (budget bill)

Extends the mandatory arrest provision for family offenses for two more years, until 9/1/2007.

Health Insurance Confidentiality - Chapter 246 A.1377-C Stringer / S.936-B Balboni

Requires insurance companies to withhold from the policyholder the address and phone number of a domestic violence victim covered by an individual policy or health maintenance organization contract*, if a valid order of protection is forwarded to the company. Health care services are also to be held confidential. If a child is the subject of the order of protection, identifying information about the child and victim parent must be protected.

*The Governor's approval message notes that this law does not include group policies and recommends adding such policies by amending the law during the next legislative session.

Crime Victim Compensation/Relocation Expenses - Chapter 377 A.8526 Weinstein / S.5196 Nozzolio

Defines relocation expenses awarded by the Crime Victims Board to mean the reasonable cost of moving and transportation, when relocation is necessary for the health or safety of a victim. An award for relocation expenses cannot exceed twenty-five hundred dollars. Incarceration Status - Chapter 186 A.714-B Pheffer / S.5092 Meir

Expands victim access to information about the incarceration status of offenders. Requires the Crime Victim's Board to include in the crime victims information pamphlet information about the VINE program (NYS Division of Parole's toll-free number to access information about a defendant's incarceration status). Requires a District Attorney to consult with the victim of a violent felony offense on the deposition of a case and to notify the victim of the final disposition. Also requires the Department of Corrections to notify District Attorneys when inmates are released from state custody.

Judicial Hearing Officer Extension - Chapter 563 A.8651 Weinstein / S.4135 Defrancisco

Extends for another three years the use of judicial hearing officers (JHO) to issue orders of protection in New York City Family Courts. Requires domestic violence training for anyone who serves as a JHO.

Judicial Hearing Officer Pilot Program - Chapter 247 A.1438-A John / S.1076-A Nozzolio

Extends for three more years the use of judicial referees to issue orders of protection in the Family Courts of the seventh and eighth judicial districts. These districts include the counties of western New York. Currently, Monroe and Erie counties are utilizing this option.

Mandated Reporter Records - Chapter 3 A.7225-A Scarborough / S.5805 Meir

Enacts substantial change to permanency and adoption provisions in several areas of law. Includes a provision that requires mandated reporters whose reports initiate an investigation of child abuse or maltreatment to comply with all CPS requests for records relating to the report.*

*The Office of Children and Family Services has clarified that this refers only to information that directly pertains to the report itself and that the mandated reporter to whom the request is directed makes the determination of what information is essential. If the report is based on information disclosed by a parent not alleged to be the subject and the mandated reporter (i.e., mental health therapist or domestic violence service provider) only has additional information concerning the non-offending parent, the provision would not apply. If CPS believes that the mandated reporter has additional essential information pertaining to the report, CPS must ask the mandated reporter for the additional records and attempt to come to agreement regarding any additional records. If CPS and the mandated reporter cannot come to agreement over the relevance of the report, CPS may seek a court order.

Crime Victim Compensation/Financial Hardship Cap - Chapter 322 A.4466 DiNapoli / S.4811 Skelos Increases the amount of rent or property value that can be exempted when calculating assets in determining financial hardship for crime victim compensation. Raises the cap from $100,000 to $500,000 for valuing a home and increases the cap for rent from five to ten years.

Missing Child Response - Chapter 348 A.8312 Magnarelli / S.5470 Skelos Requires the Division of Criminal Justice Services to offer assistance to local governments and law enforcement agencies that are not currently participating in a missing child prompt response and notification plan (i.e., "Amber Alert") to ensure that every jurisdiction in New York State is implementing and operating such a plan.

Crime Victim Compensation/Pre-existing Condition - Chapter 408 A.6717 Paulin / S.3660 Spano

Defines out-of-pocket losses to include expenses incurred as a result of the exacerbation of a pre-existing disability or condition. Specifically includes public/private educational expenses or tutoring for a child victim.

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Legislative Milestones

In addition to the laws passed in 2005, several groundbreaking pieces of legislation have been enacted over the years that have radically changed the State's response to violence against women. Some of the most significant legislation in relation to domestic violence and sexual assault is listed below.

Domestic Violence Intervention Act - Chapter 838 of 1987

Established permanent funding mechanisms for domestic violence programs. Defines "victim of domestic violence," residential and non-residential domestic violence services, and levels of residential care. Requires annual reporting of various statistics, describing the utilization of domestic violence services and the fiscal solvency of programs.

Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence - Chapter 463 of 1992

Established the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence in Executive Law, to advise the Governor and Legislature on state policies to assist domestic violence victims, improve interagency cooperation at the state level, serve as a clearinghouse for information, provide education and prevention materials, and provide training for professionals representing a wide range of fields.

Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act of 1994 - Chapters 222/224 of 1994

Established the NYS Family Protection Registry, the domestic incident reporting system, and the victims' rights notification process. Adds or revises several crimes under the NYS Penal Law and establishes mandatory arrest for certain crimes. Provides for training for judges, law enforcement personnel and district attorneys.

Domestic Violence/Custody Factor - Chapter 85 of 1996

Amends the Family Court Act and Domestic Relations Law to require judges to consider the effect of domestic violence in assessing the best interests of a child or children, when making custody and visitation determinations.

Insurance Discrimination - Chapter 174 of 1996

Prohibits insurance companies and health maintenance organizations from discriminating against domestic violence victims. It specifically outlaws designating domestic violence as a preexisting condition and denying or canceling an insurance policy or requiring a higher premium or payment where the insured is or has been a domestic violence victim. The Superintendent of the NYS Insurance Department is required to develop rules to assist insurers in guarding against the disclosure of the address and location of any insured who is a victim of domestic violence.

Criminal Contempt Expansion/Order of Protection Violations - Chapter 353 of 1996

Expands the acts that will constitute the crime of criminal contempt in the first degree, an E felony, when committed in violation of an order of protection. The law provides that a defendant is guilty of the E felony if he or she violates an order of protection by committing any unlawful acts such as stalking, menacing and harassment. The law also increases the penalty for violations of an order of protection when the violating behavior causes physical injury, constituting the new crime of Aggravated Criminal Contempt, a D felony.

Revocation/Suspension of Firearms License - Chapter 644 of 1996

Sets forth the conditions under which a judge is mandated, or may elect, to revoke or suspend a firearms license, upon the issuance of a temporary order of protection or order of protection, or upon the violation of an order of protection.

The law provides for the surrender of weapons to authorities and notification to local police authorities, the NYS Family Protection Registry and the New York State Police. Under this bill, the court's authority is expanded beyond licensed firearms to include the surrender of rifles and shotguns.

Primary Physical Aggressor - Chapter 4 of 1997

Amends mandatory arrest provisions to clarify that, in family offense cases where both parties allege an offense, arrest of both parties is not required if an officer believes one party was acting in self-defense. In misdemeanor cross-complaint cases, police are not required to arrest both parties, only the primary physical aggressor. Specific guidelines are provided to assist in the identification of the primary physical aggressor. The bill also prohibits an officer from threatening arrest in order to discourage a person's request for police intervention, and specifies that decisions regarding arrest may not be based on a complainant's willingness to testify or participate in a subsequent judicial proceeding. The Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence developed guidelines for the implementation of this law by police agencies.

Welfare Reform/Family Violence Option - Chapter 436 of 1997

Created universal notification of domestic violence protections to all temporary assistance applicants and recipients, including the opportunity to complete a domestic violence screening form, voluntary referral to services and notice of the availability of waivers from certain requirements, if domestic violence is a barrier to the applicant/recipient's ability to comply, or participation will make it more difficult to escape the violence, or place the victim or children in further risk of domestic violence. Created a state-funded, locally administered Domestic Violence Liaison (DVL) position in all 58 social services districts; the DVL is responsible for determining the credibility of domestic violence allegations and granting waivers for those who are eligible.

Unemployment Benefits - Chapter 268 of 1999

Provides that, in cases where a victim of domestic violence voluntarily separates from employment as a result of the abuse, separation may be deemed for good cause for the purposes of unemployment benefits.

Clinic Access and Anti-Stalking Act of 1999 - Chapter 635 of 1999

Creates the new crime of stalking in the first, second, third and fourth degrees, with related provisions on firearms, warrants, sentencing requirements and crime victim compensation. Also creates the crime of criminal interference with health care services or religious worship.

Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA) - Chapter 1 of 2000

Enacts comprehensive change in the State's laws regarding rape, sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Creates new crimes, increases protection for victims of sex offenses with additional protections for child victims, and increases and strengthens consequences for offenders. Addresses prosecution, bail, release, witnesses, sentencing, the sex offender registry and crime victim compensation. In addition, establishes a statewide sexual assault forensic examiner program and a rape crisis intervention and prevention program in statute. [SARA was amended in 2003 to establish or increase penalties for several sexual assault crimes, including forcible touching, persistent sexual abuse and possession of the date-rape drug, GHB. Direct Crime Victims Board reimbursement was established for sexual assault forensic exams performed by a hospital, sexual assault examiner program or licensed health care provider.]

Domestic Violence/Child Protective Service Training - Chapter 280 of 2002

Requires all current and new Child Protective Service workers to be trained on domestic violence issues. The training was developed by NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence in conjunction with NYS Office of Children and Family Services, and addresses the dynamics of domestic violence and its connection to child abuse and neglect. Training topics include: psychological harm experienced by children, the trauma associated with foster care placement, barriers facing immigrant women, the child welfare and court systems' response to the abusing partner and remedies available to the victim.

Order of Protection Extension -Chapter 579 of 2003

Extends the maximum length that orders of protection can be granted in Family Court from 1 to 2 years, and from 3 to 5 if aggravating circumstances exist (such as a violation of a current order of protection).

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New York State Laws Related to Domestic Violence
(Listed by Subject, New York State Statutes)
Confidentiality for Victims of Domestic Violence

Address Confidentiality

Family Court Act §154-b

Domestic Relations Law §254

Civil Practice Law and Rules §2103-a

Insurance Law §2612(f)

Name Change

Civil Rights Law §64-a

Custody and Visitation

Domestic Relations Law §240

Family Court Act §§812, 821-a, §§651-671

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

Domestic Relations Law §§75-77

Children

Selective Crimes Involving Children

Custodial Interference and Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Penal Law §§135.45, 135.50,260.10

Child Protection Proceedings

Family Court Act - Article 10

Court Venue

Family Court Act §§154-d, 812, 828

Criminal Procedure Law §530.11

Judiciary Law §216

Fair Treatment Standards

Executive Law §§641, 642, 646-a, 647

Family Offenses Identified

Family Court Act §812(1)

Criminal Procedure Law §530.11(1)

Specific Crimes in Penal Law:

Assault §§120.00 - 120.12

Menacing §§120.13 - 120.15

Reckless Endangerment §§120.20 - 120.25

Stalking §§120.45 - 120.60

Disorderly Conduct §240.20

Harassment §§240.25 - 240.32

Firearms

Suspension/Revocation of License; Surrender of Firearms

Family Court Act §§842-a, 846-a

Domestic Relations Law §§240, 252

Criminal Procedure Law §530.14

HIV Testing

Criminal Procedure Law §390.15

Family Court Act §347.1

Public Health Law §2785-a

Domestic Violence Provision

Public Health Law §2137

Insurance

Discrimination Prohibition

Confidentiality of Victim Address

and Health Care Information

Insurance Law §2612

Legal Representation

Criminal Procedure Law §530.11

Family Court Act §821-a

Megan's Law Information

Correction Law §§168-p, 168-q

Notification of Certain Decisions by the District Attorney

Criminal Procedure Law §440.50

Executive Law §641

Orders of Protection

Family Offense Proceedings, Family Court

Family Court Act §§153-b, 153-c, 154-b, 154-c, 154-d, 155, 551, 812,780, 813, 814-a, 821-a, 828, 832, 833 835, 841, 842, 846, 846-a, 847

Family Offense Proceedings, Criminal Court

Criminal Procedure Law §§140.10(4)(5), 530.11, 530.12/

Non-Family Offense Proceedings

Criminal Procedure Law §530.13

Divorce, Separation or Annulment Proceedings

Domestic Relations Law §§240, 252

Statewide Registry of Orders of Protection and Warrants

Executive Law §221-a

Criminal Procedure Law §§ 530.11, 530.13

Family Court Act §§155, 814-a

Domestic Relations Law §240

Enforcement of an Out-of-State Order of Protection

Executive Law §221-a

Criminal Procedure Law §§140.10(4), 530.11

Domestic Relations Law §252

Criminal Violations of an Order of Protection

Criminal Contempt and Aggravated Criminal Contempt

Penal Law §§215.50 - 215.52

Police Response

Protection from Dual Arrests, Primary Aggressor

Criminal Procedure Law §140.10

Notice of Legal Rights and Remedies (shelter, medical treatment, assistance with retrieval of belongings)

Criminal Procedure Law §530.11(6)

Family Court Act §812

Incident Report

Executive Law §837(15)

Public Assistance Benefits - Family Violence Option

Social Services Law §§349-a, 390(2)

Restitution

Executive Law §646-a

Penal Law §60.27

Criminal Procedure Law §420.10

Sexual Assault-Specific Statutes

Advocate

Public Health Law §2805-I

Emergency Treatment of Rape Survivors

Public Health Law §2805-p

Hospital Evidence

Public Health Law §2805-I

Direct OVS Payment For Forensic Exam

Executive Law §631(13)

Confidentiality for Victims of Sexual Assault

Civil Practice Law and Rules §§4510

Criminal Procedure Law §§60.42, 60.48, 60.76

Civil Rights Law §50-b

Polygraph or Psychological Stress Evaluator Examination

Criminal Procedure Law §160.45

Private Setting and Support for Victim Interview

Executive Law §642

Shelter and Non-Residential Services for Victims of Domestic Violence

Social Services Law §§131-u, 459-c

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Labor Law §§593(1)(a)

Victim Impact Statement

Probation Pre-sentence Report

Criminal Procedure Law §§390.30, 390.50

Sentencing

Criminal Procedure Law §380.50

Parole

Executive Law §259-i

Voting Accommodations

Election Law §11-306

Workplace Protections for Victims

Penal Law §215.14

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Funding

Over the past few decades, vital new funding streams for domestic violence and sexual assault initiatives have been created throughout the country. The availability of increased resources has dramatically altered the response to domestic violence and sexual assault, enabling communities to create and enhance victim services, increase system collaboration, implement specialized units, train countless responders, purchase state-of-the-art equipment, and improve their efforts in many other creative and innovative ways.*

Sources of Funding
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
  • New York State
    • Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV)
    • Office of Victim Services (OVS)
    • Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS)
    • Department of Health (DOH)
    • New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence NYSCADV)
    • New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA)
    • Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)
    • Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA)
  • Private, Corporate and Local
Violence Against Women Act
One of the most groundbreaking changes leading to increased funding and resources was the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Initially passed in 1994, VAWA was the first federal legislation to acknowledge domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes, and to provide federal resources to encourage coordinated community responses to domestic violence. Over the past 11 years, approximately $5.1 billion in grant funds has been awarded under VAWA's various programs. The VAWA grant programs are:
  • STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grants Program
  • STOP Violence Against Indian Women Discretionary Grant Program
  • Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders
  • Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Enforcement Grants
  • Legal Assistance for Victims Grant Program
  • Grants to Reduce Violent Crimes Against Women on Campus
  • Grants to State Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Coalitions Program
  • Grants to Tribal Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalitions
  • Training Grants to Stop Abuse and Sexual Assault Against Older Individuals or Individuals with Disabilities Program
  • Education and Technical Assistance Grants to End Violence Against Women with Disabilities
  • Safe Havens: Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program
  • Transitional Housing Assistance Grants Program
  • President's Family Justice Center Initiative

In 2004, $22,999,932 in grant funds was awarded to programs in New York State through various VAWA grant programs.

* Please note that while every attempt was made to ensure accuracy in reporting funding amounts, there may be inaccuracies based on issues related to reporting year (fiscal year or calendar year), method of reporting of various agencies and the complex nature of domestic violence and sexual assault funding in New York State.

New York State Funding

Many state agencies provide funding to NYS communities to support local domestic violence and sexual assault efforts. Some of the funding is federal money that comes through the state. The Governor determines which state agencies administer and oversee the various federal funding streams based on federal guidelines.

NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

OPDV supports local and state domestic violence efforts in a variety of ways. This includes making competitive grant awards to 5 batterer programs and for the maintenance of the NYS English and Spanish Domestic Violence Hotlines, administering contracts for prosecutorial training and legal programs, and other support of local domestic violence efforts. In 2005, OPDV distributed $829,000 to support and enhance such efforts.

Office of Victim Services (OVS)

The New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS) was created in 1966 under Article 22 of the Executive Law to compensate innocent victims of crime for unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses. In 1981, the mission of OVS was expanded to include the grant funding of community based organizations, both municipal and not-for-profit, to address the immediate needs of victims of crime. In 1986, the Crime Victims Board began to receive federal funds pursuant to the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984, in order to sustain and expand program services. Originally, there were three priority categories of victims to be served: victims of spousal abuse, sexual assault and child abuse. A fourth priority category has been added to the mission of the grant program that includes other victims of violent crime.

In partnership with a network of dedicated service providers, OVS has made great strides in making quality services available to crime victims throughout New York State. Today there are nearly 200 funded programs serving every county in the state. In 2005, OVS Victim Assistance Programs reported serving 93,566 domestic violence victims and 14,502 sexual assault victims.

In addition, OVS works closely with its Advisory Council to develop policies and services that further the interests of innocent victims of crime. The Advisory Council is made up of experts in the field of victim assistance and law enforcement, as well as members of the legislature, victim advocates and educators.

In 2005, OVS awarded $22,398,700 to 170 programs in New York State to support services to domestic violence and sexual assault victims. In 2005, there were 2,309 claims identified as domestic violence and 750 claims identified as adult sexual assault (93 of which were also identified as domestic violence) filed with OVS. OVS paid $1,383,997 to victims of domestic violence. OVS also paid $386,978 to adult victims of sexual assault, $25,537 of which was for claims also identified as domestic violence.
NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is a multi-function criminal justice agency. DCJS is among the nation's leaders in developing criminal justice technologies, communication and information systems. Housed in the Division are the state's criminal history fingerprint files, which are used to provide police departments and other authorized agencies throughout the state with the criminal records of arrested persons and (where authorized by statute) applicants for employment or licensure.

DCJS is the state administering agency for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) STOP funds. As such, DCJS is responsible for the coordination of the VAWA Advisory Committee that develops a State Plan, determining program priority areas and guiding the implementation of the STOP funds for New York State. Additionally, the State Plan should be the guide that other state agencies use in determining their funding priorities. Many agencies and systems have been represented on the VAWA Advisory since its inception, including OPDV, NYS Department of Health, NYS Office for Children and Family Services, NYS Police, Office of Court Administration, NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV), NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA), OVS, NYS Magistrates Association, NYS Unified Court System, NYS Office of Court Administration,local district attorneys' offices, police departments and victim service agencies.

As designed on the federal level, the STOP Grants are awarded to states to develop and strengthen the criminal justice system's response to violence against women and to support and enhance services for victims. Each state and territory must allocate 25% of the grant funds to law enforcement, 25% to prosecution, 5% to courts, and 30% to victim services. The remaining 15% is discretionary within the parameters of the Violence Against Women Act. In New York State, the discretionary funds have been used largely to enhance victim services.

In 2005, the DCJS VAWA Unit awarded $5,462,675 in STOP funds to counties in New York State.

Examples of ways New York State communities have used STOP funds are:

  • Creating integrated teams of law enforcement, victim advocates, probation and prosecutors;
  • Supporting Sexual Assault Examiner (SAE) programs;
  • Providing legal services to immigrants who are victims of domestic violence;
  • Strengthening multidisciplinary coordination and cooperation;
  • Supporting specialized law enforcement;
  • Supporting specialized prosecutorial units; and
  • Enhancing criminal justice advocacy for victims.
NYS Department of Health

The Rape Crisis Program of the New York State Department of Health (DOH) funds a rape crisis center in every county and borough of New York State plus two coalitions and one child abuse medical provider network.

Through a network of 55 rape crisis centers providing services at 77 sites, the program provides rape prevention and education to all age groups including children, adolescents and adults; hotline services; and quality crisis intervention, support and counseling services around the clock, 365 days a year. In addition, the Rape Crisis Program is responsible for promulgating standards to ensure that survivors of sexual assault receive the full range of indicated medical, forensic and support services needed to promote their recovery.

In 2005, DOH provided $4.9 million in funding from a combination of state and federal money, for rape crisis centers, the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA), the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault (the Alliance) and the Child Abuse Medical Provider (CHAMP) Network. Additionally, DOH provided one-time grants up to $15,000 to hospitals meeting the requirements of Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Centers of Excellence in 2005, totaling $247,695. On an on-going basis, DOH also provides annual funding to NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence for training programs for domestic violence health professionals in New York City.

NYS Office of Children and Family Services

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) was formed on January 8, 1998 by merging the former State Division for Youth with the family and children's programs administered by the former State Department of Social Services.

The agency was created to improve the integration of services for New York's children, youth, families and vulnerable populations, and to promote their development and protect them from violence, neglect, abuse and abandonment.

OCFS has numerous responsibilities including: foster care, adoption and adoption assistance, child protective services, preventive services for children and families, services for pregnant adolescents, child care and referral programs, protective programs for vulnerable adults, and services to legally blind children and adults.

The primary ongoing responsibilities of OCFS in relation to the statewide domestic violence system include:

  • Licensing residential programs for victims of domestic violence;
  • Monitoring and providing technical assistance to local districts and approved residential and non-residential programs for victims of domestic violence;
  • Establishing, on an annual basis, the per diem rate of reimbursement for each approved residential program;
  • Administering Federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FFVPSA) funds;
  • Overseeing the county planning process as it relates to the approval of non-residential domestic violence services programs; and
  • Providing financial reimbursement to social services districts for residential and non-residential domestic violence services.
Federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FFVPSA)

FFVPSA is money OCFS receives from the US Department of Health and Human Services, which funds OCFS approved residential and non-residential domestic violence programs. The 2005 FFVPSA award for New York State was $4,234,009. Ninety-eight domestic violence programs applied for and received FFVPSA funding from OCFS in 2005.

Hoyt Memorial Children and Family Trust Fund

In 1984, the William B. Hoyt Memorial Children and Family Trust Fund was established by New York State to assist in addressing the serious problem of family violence in all its forms - child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse. This continues to be the mission of the Trust Fund and the Advisory Board. The Trust Fund supported seven domestic violence-related projects in 2005. It administered $356,250 in state funds and $132,000 in federal funds.

NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

Within its role in New York State government, the mission of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) is: "To promote greater self-sufficiency of the State's residents through the efficient delivery of temporary and transitional assistance, disability assistance, and the collection of child support."

Family Violence Option

In 1996, the federal government passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, known as Welfare Reform. Included in the passage was a provision that allowed states to exempt victims of domestic violence from certain requirements of welfare, known as the Family Violence Option. In 1997, New York passed the Welfare Reform Act and, simultaneously, adopted the Family Violence Option (FVO) in its entirety. Implementation of the FVO included the creation of a state-funded, locally administered Domestic Violence Liaison (DVL) position in all 58 social service districts. The DVL is responsible for determining the credibility of domestic violence allegations and granting waivers for those who are eligible. The FVO is a mandatory program that has several key functions:

  • Universal notification of domestic violence protections to all temporary assistance applicants and recipients;
  • Providing an opportunity for all applicants and recipients to complete the Domestic Violence Screening Form;
  • Communicating that disclosure is confidential and voluntary; and
  • Referring individuals who complete the screening form to the Domestic Violence Liaison for a credibility assessment.
In New York State, funds to support the DVL position in every county are administered by OTDA. The agency is also responsible for the administration of the shelter reimbursement program and payment of non-residential domestic violence services contracts through local Departments of Social Services. In addition to the existing funding for non-residential services, in 2005 the NYS Legislature appropriated $3,000,000 to enhance those services.
New York State Coalition against Domestic Violence New York State Coalition against Sexual Assault

Both the NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) and the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) provide funding to communities to support the work of domestic violence and sexual assault programs on the local level.

In 2005, NYSCADV distributed $336,686 to domestic violence programs in New York State. Projects supported with this funding include NYSCADV's Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) Project, and Supervised Visitation and Economic Justice Project (see NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence section for details on these projects). For the same year, NYSCASA distributed $72,000 to support sexual assault programs. This funding supported projects such as the NYS Victim Assistance Academy and the Self-Advocacy Center.

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Private, Corporate and Local Funding

In addition to federal and state funding, domestic violence and sexual assault initiatives in New York State rely heavily on private, corporate and local support. For example, many domestic violence programs in New York State receive funding from the United Way. This funding is vital to the continued operation of these programs. Additionally, corporate funding has been an enormous boost to domestic violence efforts in recent years.

Individuals, community organizations, foundations, businesses, and workplaces in the private sector have been extremely generous in their support of domestic violence work. From supporting grassroots organizing projects to computer upgrades to expanded services, from donating teddy bears for children in shelters to professional clothes for interviews to food and phone cards, New Yorkers have responded to the many needs of survivors and programs alike. Whether the assistance comes from New York's numerous international corporations, a small family foundation, the local doughnut shop or a class of 3rd graders, these community partners have successfully and creatively collaborated with programs in response to the hardship and injustice of domestic violence.

In conjunction with public support, donations from the private sector have enabled domestic violence programs to provide critical and life-saving services when victims of domestic violence need them. These partnerships within the private sector, one-time or ongoing, strengthen our communities and promote awareness of the domestic violence crisis that affects everyone. Financial, in-kind and volunteer support helps to close a huge gap in the unmet needs of women who have been abused, their children and the programs that work with them. All our communities are stronger and safer for their contributions.

According to NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), residential domestic violence programs reported receiving $2,744,660 in private funding in 2005. For the same period, non-residential domestic violence programs reported receiving $11,214,196 in private funding. Material above includes information obtained or adapted from the websites of the following agencies:

Training

Training is a key component of a process promoting positive social change in institutional response to domestic violence.

A guiding principle of OPDV is that the solution to the problem of domestic violence lies within the community as a whole, with both formal and informal "systems" becoming active partners in efforts to establish a coordinated community response that promotes victim safety and reinforces abuser accountability. Everyone - employers, human services workers, law enforcement professionals, district attorneys, mental health practitioners, health care professionals, educators, child welfare workers, youth leaders, and members of civil, religious, cultural, and ethnic groups and organizations - has an important role to play.

Appropriate training enhances professional knowledge about domestic violence and improves the systems' response. Accurate, state-of-the-art training helps professionals develop effective policies, protocols, and programs and the ability to implement them effectively. Minimally, such training prepares staff to assess for domestic violence, assist identified victims in safety planning, make appropriate referrals, and individualize responses in recognition of the physical, social, and cultural realities that may impact an individual victim's situation.

The trainings listed below range from one-hour brown bag lunch presentations to multi-day continuing education programs. Some are conducted in conjunction with other organizations and some focus on other subjects but address domestic violence. The notable point is that thousands of professionals in New York State are being trained on domestic violence, which could mean safety and support for thousands more New Yorkers.

NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
Child Protective Services (CPS) and Child Welfare:

The CPS training was developed in response to the passage of Chapter 280 of the Laws of 2002. This mandatory training provides a comprehensive overview of adult domestic violence, the role of CPS in responding to domestic violence cases, and how domestic violence impacts the safety of adult and child victims. In 2005, 28 training sessions were conducted for 404 participants. Additionally, the Child Welfare training is designed for line staff and supervisors who work in preventive, foster care and adoption units as well as local voluntary agency staff. In 2005, 5 trainings were conducted for 65 participants.

Domestic Violence Liaison Institute:

This training is designed for Domestic Violence Liaisons employed by, or under contract with, local social services agencies within New York State. Institute training is provided in collaboration with the Professional Development Program, Rockefeller College, University at Albany. In 2005, 45 participants received training.

Domestic Violence Training for Local District Staff:

This training provides a brief summary of the legal responsibilities of local social services districts to victims of domestic violence. The program includes a thorough overview of the Family Violence Option and the role of local district staff in its implementation. Nineteen trainings were conducted for 326 participants in 2005.

Community Coordination:

Training in the area of community coordination includes general trainings to large,

diverse groups. In 2005, 470 participants attended these trainings.
Criminal Justice:

Criminal justice trainings include those conducted for police officers, emergency communications personnel, town and village magistrates, corrections employees, and other law enforcement officials. These trainings focus on offender accountability through job-specific subjects including stalking, primary aggressor determination, appropriate criminal charging, and the utilization of the New York State Domestic Incident Report (DIR). In 2005, 55 trainings were attended by 2,262 participants.

Probation:

The NYS Probation Domestic Violence Intervention Project staff from OPDV, DPCA and NYSCADV collectively trained at 46 events to 1,465 participants in 2005. Project staff customize programs to meet the specific needs of a community on subjects such as supervising domestic violence offenders, child custody reports, and supervising female offenders. The Probation Project has gained national recognition and has presented at events such as conferences of the NYS Probation Officers Association, American Probation and Parole Association, and the National College of District Attorneys.

Health Care:

Attendees at health care trainings include doctors, nurses, and other health care providers. Subjects can include Maternal, Infant & Child Health Care, Identifying Domestic Violence and Immigrant Women in the Health Care Setting.

In 2005, 92 trainings were made to 2,863 participants.
Human Services:

In 2005, trainings in the area of human services included topics such as law guardians, homelessness, developmental disabilities, troubled youth, trauma, dating violence, mental health, substance abuse and brain injury. There were 28 trainings attended by 1,240 participants.

Technical Assistance:

OPDV also provides technical assistance, including policy development and review, policy development presentations, community coordination activities, monitoring, site visits, materials review, meeting and workgroup facilitation and participation, consultation, fulfilling information requests and answering questions, and RFP or grant proposal review.

Other:

OPDV provides training on many other specialized topics. In 2005, 462 participants attended trainings on such topics as batterers programs, domestic violence in the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual (LGTB) community and cultural competency.

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Other Agencies and Organizations

NYS Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA):

DPCA is a partner in the NYS Probation Domestic Violence Intervention Project (see Probation section under OPDV training). Additionally, domestic violence is one of the subjects addressed in "Fundamentals of Probation Practice," a mandatory two-week training for all new probation officers in New York State. In 2005, 3 sessions were held for 74 participants.

New York State Police:

The Domestic Violence Intervention Unit (DVIU) is a specialized unit within the New York State Police (NYSP). The DVIU provided training for NYSP members at various locations across New York State during 2005. Training was also provided to other police departments and multidisciplinary groups, for a total of 48 training events presented to 1,261 participants. Many of those trained are instructors at the New York State Police Academy. In 2005, 298 recruits received domestic violence training. Additionally, 4,500 sworn members received in-service training on minimizing danger when responding to domestic incidents.

NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV):

NYSCADV is a partner in the NYS Probation Domestic Violence Intervention Project. (See Probation section under OPDV training.) In addition to the Probation Project's trainings, NYSCADV provided 332 trainings to 1,290 participants via their Education, Hotline, Policy, Prevention, Probation, Tech Safety, and Women of Color Projects on a wide range of topics to a variety of audiences, primarily staff of domestic violence programs.

NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA):

NYSCASA staff organized and presented on 43 occasions in 2005, reaching 1,450 participants. These included statewide hearings, roundtables, state agency trainings, forums and task force meetings, academies, community events, schools, universities, and local, regional, statewide and national conferences. They also held 10 teleconferences to reach another 300 advocates and allies on a range of topics. NYSCASA also provides community education through tabling at local, regional, educational and professional events.

NYS Unified Court System:

The New York State Office for Court Administration's Office for Court Operations and Planning, the Center for Court Innovation, Domestic Violence Courts, and Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Courts conducted approximately 40 trainings for court staff and their stakeholders. These trainings addressed such topics as how to plan an IDV Court, the overlap between sexual assault and domestic violence, and the impact of domestic violence on children.

Family Violence Task Force:

The Family Violence Task Force is composed of judges, non-judicial staff and members of the bar from throughout New York State. Its goal is to assure that every judge of the Unified Court System, town and village justice, support magistrate, clerk and court attorney who comes into contact with family violence issues is well-versed in the complex dynamics of the problem, sensitive to the needs of the litigants and knowledgeable about the law. In 2005, five trainings reached more than 600 attendees.

The New York Prosecutors Training Institute, Inc. (NYPTI):

NYPTI is the mutual assistance and continuing legal education division of the NYS District Attorneys Association. NYPTI's domestic violence activities include developing curriculum and training prosecutors, conducting domestic violence trial advocacy programs, rendering assistance to prosecutors throughout the state and soliciting and publishing articles. In 2005, NYPTI conducted 12 trainings for more than 400 participants.

New York State Victim Assistance Academy (NYSVAA):

The NYSVAA is an annual interdisciplinary, academically based learning experience for crime victim service providers, advocates and allied professionals. The five-day academy, which is led by the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault, trains on many subjects, including domestic violence. In 2005, 50 crime victim service providers attended the inaugural Academy.

NY Model for Batterer Programs National Training Institute:

A collaborative project of the VCS Community Change Project and the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, this twice-yearly Institute provides detailed information as well as demonstrations on all facets of the NY Model for Batterer Programs (see Batterer Intervention Project for more information on the NY Model). Since 1996, more than 1,000 people have attended the Institute, including battered women's advocates, social change activists, organizers and professionals from criminal justice, health, mental health, chemical dependency, and faith communities, among others.

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Criminal Justice and The Legal System

In New York State, enhancing the criminal justice and legal response has been a focus for domestic violence advocates, lawmakers, and criminal justice professionals alike. Swift and meaningful action by the criminal justice system is a critical component in New York State's response to domestic violence.

Domestic Incident Report

The New York State Domestic Incident Report (DIR) was created as part of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act of 1994. The DIR was the first standardized report mandated for use in domestic violence cases. Use of the report began in January 1995, with police being directed to complete a DIR whenever responding to a domestic incident, whether or not an arrest was made. The intent of the DIR is to enable New York State to track domestic violence cases and gather statistics in order to provide better services for victims of domestic violence and to create a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem of domestic violence within the State.

In 2003, a workgroup was convened to revise the DIR. The revision was deemed necessary based on the feedback of police and other criminal justice agencies statewide, whose experience with the original DIR revealed several areas in need of improvement. The workgroup was a collaborative effort between DCJS, OPDV, the New York State Police, and several local law enforcement agencies, criminal justice professionals and domestic violence advocates. The new DIR, which was distributed in January of 2006 and will be phased into use by June of the same year, was created in an effort to help local and state criminal justice professionals share information and formulate a thorough investigation. Enhanced to better prioritize victim safety, officer safety and offender accountability, the new DIR will also assist law enforcement in obtaining critical incident information imperative for a successful prosecution.

Approximately 450,000 domestic incidents are reported to police departments in New York State annually. (DCJS Domestic Incident Report Data, 2001-2002)1 Since national estimates suggest that only about half of all non-fatal violent crimes are reported to the police, it is very possible that the actual number of domestic incidents that occur in NYS each year are double this number. (Family Violence Statistics, DOJ/BJS, June 2005)

  1. Domestic Incident Report (DIR) data was used to develop these estimates. For upstate and Long Island, 2001 DIR data was available. For NYC, only 2002 was available, so the annual estimate for the state was developed using a composite of these two years.

Orders of Protection and the NYS Family Protection Registry

Orders of protection are designed to help protect victims of domestic violence and their children from harassment and abuse.

In New York State, orders of protection can be issued by criminal court, Family Court and Supreme Court. Provisions that might be contained in an order of protection include directing the abuser to stop the abusive behavior toward the victim, the victim's children and others, directing the abuser to have no contact (phone calls, e-mail, letters, etc.) with the victim, and limiting where an abuser can go (i.e., near a school). Additionally, some orders of protection contain a "stay away" provision. Current New York State law allows a Family Court to issue orders of protection for a maximum of two years and, with aggravating circumstances, for a maximum of five years. Violation of a valid order of protection itself constitutes an aggravating circumstance. Criminal court orders of protection vary according to the severity of the offense: one year for violations, three years for misdemeanors and five years for felonies. Orders of protection are valid in every county in New York State and with "Full Faith and Credit," are honored in every state throughout the country.

The NYS Family Protection Registry (the Registry) was created as part of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act of 1994. The Registry, which became operational in October of 1995, is the repository for orders of protection issued pursuant to articles four, five, six and eight of the Family Court Act, Section 530.12 of the Criminal Procedure Law, sections 240 and 252 of the Domestic Relations Law and all arrest warrants issued pursuant to section 827 of the Family Court Act and Article 120 of the Criminal Procedure Law. The Registry was developed by the NYS Unified Court System in collaboration with the New York State Police, and links to the New York Statewide Police Information Network (NYSPIN). The Registry is a historical record; orders of protection remain in the database even after they expire.

In 2005, 123,649 orders of protection (temporary and final) were entered into the Registry. The current total number of orders of protection in the Registry is 1,411,264.

This material includes information obtained or adapted from:

  • NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, "Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act of 1994: Evaluation of the Mandatory Arrest Provisions"

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Domestic Violence Courts

Specialized domestic violence courts are designed to improve victim safety and enhance offender accountability. The first domestic violence court in New York State opened in 1996 in Brooklyn. Domestic Violence Courts handle misdemeanor and felony-level criminal cases and are characterized by a single presiding judge; a fixed prosecutorial team; enhanced staffing (including resource coordinator and victim advocate positions); and a coordinated community response between the justice system and community stakeholders.

In 2005, there were 25 Domestic Violence Courts in New York State. These Courts promote:

  • Swift, certain, and consistent responses to domestic violence;
  • Victim safety and access to court case information, social services, housing and counseling;
  • Intensive monitoring to ensure offender compliance to orders of protection and a swift response to violators;
  • Judicial supervision of cases from arraignment through post-disposition; and
  • Accountability by offenders and those agencies responsible for offender programs, offender monitoring and victim advocacy.

To achieve a continuum of screening, referral, and monitoring of cases, New York's Domestic Violence Courts include the following key elements:

Dedicated Judge:

The judge presides over cases from post-arraignment through disposition, monitors offenders and their compliance with orders of protection and other court mandates, such as program attendance, and promotes consistent and efficient case handling.

Resource Coordinator:
The resource coordinator prepares offender and victim information for the judge, holds agencies accountable for accurate and prompt reporting, and identifies any problems that challenge court components.
On-Site Victim Advocate:

The on-site victim advocate serves as primary contact to victims; creates safety plans, and coordinates housing and counseling, as well as other social services; and provides victims with information about criminal proceedings, and special conditions contained within their orders of protection.

Coordinated Community Response:
A coordinated community response involves increased information sharing, communication and coordination among criminal justice agencies and community-based social services; a consistent and collaborative response to domestic violence; and more opportunities for continued education and training on domestic violence and the courts.
Research and Evaluation:

Continual research and evaluation allows the Courts to maintain feedback about court and stakeholder collaboration, analyze court and stakeholder procedures, examine the success of intervention programs, examine the use of victim service programs, and study offender compliance with court mandates and analyze recidivism.

Partners include county district attorneys, victim advocates, probation, law enforcement, the defense bar, civil attorneys and the matrimonial bar.

This material includes information obtained or adapted from: Center for Court Innovation web site:

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Domestic Violence Courts (DVCs) and Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Courts in 2005

The following counties had DVCs in existence in 2005:

  • Albany
  • Broome
  • Bronx
  • Cayuga
  • Chautauqua
  • Erie*
  • Kings *
  • Nassau*
  • New York
  • Niagara
  • Onondaga
  • Orange
  • Oswego
  • Queens*
  • Rensselaer
  • Rockland*
  • Suffolk
  • Ulster
  • Warren
  • Westchester
The following counties had IDV courts in existence in 2005:
  • Broome
  • Bronx
  • Cayuga
  • Chautauqua
  • Clinton
  • Essex
  • Erie
  • Franklin
  • Fulton
  • Hamilton
  • Kings
  • Monroe
  • Montgomery
  • Nassau
  • Niagara
  • Onondaga
  • Orange
  • Oswego
  • Queens
  • Rensselaer
  • Richmond
  • St. Lawrence
  • Schenectady
  • Suffolk
  • Tompkins
  • Westchester**
  • Wyoming

Note: The following counties had courts in the planning stages in 2005: Broome, Chautauqua, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Orange, Oswego and St. Lawrence.

* Indicates counties that had 2 DVCs in 2005.

** Indicates counties that had 2 IDV Courts in 2005.

Integrated Domestic Violence Courts

In January of 2001, New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye announced the creation of Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Courts. These "one family/one judge" courts are designed to respond to the unique nature of domestic violence, which often requires domestic violence victims and their families to appear in different courtrooms before several judges.

Under the integrated model, one judge handles criminal domestic violence cases and related family issues, such as custody, visitation, civil protection orders and matrimonial actions. By streamlining and centralizing court processes, integrated courts eliminate contradictory orders and improve victim safety. They also hold offenders to a higher level of accountability by concentrating responsibility for defendant oversight in the hands of a single judge. In addition, victims gain a greater voice in their cases and are better able to address critical family issues - such as economic dependence - that impede their ability to prosecute abusers and, ultimately, to achieve independence.

In 2005, there were 28 Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Courts in New York State. IDV Courts saw 11,828 new cases that year, representing 2,435 new families. These courts aim to improve the handling of domestic violence cases through:

One Family/One Judge:

A single presiding judge is cross-trained to handle all matters - both criminal and civil - relating to a family. In the past, a Family Court judge might never hear about an order of protection issued in criminal court, or a criminal court judge might never learn about relevant issues that arise in Family Court. By concentrating responsibility with a single judge, the court speeds decision-making, improves defendant accountability, enhances victim safety and eliminates the potential for conflicting judicial orders.

Defendant Monitoring

By bringing all aspects of a domestic violence case before a single judge, the court increases coordination among criminal justice and community-based social service agencies. In addition, through scheduling regular compliance dates, the court keeps close tabs on defendants and responds quickly to allegations of non-compliance.

The integrated courts build on the innovations developed across the state by domestic violence courts, which over the last few years have improved defendant accountability and enhanced victims' safety.
Greater Efficiency:

By handling both criminal and civil matters in a single hearing, the IDV Courts aim to reduce the number of court appearances for litigants. This speeds dispositions and streamlines the process for participants.

Services for Victims:

The court works closely with specialists who counsel victims and link them to appropriate services, such as housing and job training.

Partners in the IDV Courts include county district attorneys, domestic violence advocates, probation, law enforcement, the defense bar, civil attorneys and the matrimonial bar.

This material includes information obtained or adapted from: Center for Court Innovation web site.

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Batterer Intervention Project

Chapter 411 of the Laws of 1988 established the New York State Batterers Intervention Project (the Project) to develop a coordinated community response to domestic violence that includes a batterer intervention component designed to hold batterers accountable.

Consistent with this accountability intent, the Project was originally administered by the NYS Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA) and funded five pilot batterer programs in the City of New York and the counties of Erie, Onondaga, Rockland and Tioga. Chapter 663 of the Laws of 1992 established the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) and transferred administrative responsibility for the Project to OPDV.

As experience with batterer programs in New York State unfolded, it was unclear whether any individual men were changed or whether these classes did anything to stop violence, but it became evident that the most effective part of any batterer program is the degree to which it is integrated into a comprehensive criminal justice response to domestic violence. To this end, OPDV's funding priority has changed to ensure that batterer programs adhere to a coordinated criminal justice approach, one that promotes offender accountability as the responsibility of the mandating agency (such as probation or the court), and as something taken seriously by the criminal justice system. This was determined to be the best use of the funds, as it would create a longer lasting system of accountability than batterer classes alone ever could. All of the programs currently funded under the Project further this philosophy.

In 2005, the projects funded through OPDV's competitive grant process were:

  • A New Hope Center (Tioga County)
  • Catholic Charities of Buffalo (Erie County)
  • Family Services, Inc. (Dutchess County)
  • Safe Horizon (New York City)
  • Unity House (Rensselaer County)
  • Volunteer Counseling Services (VCS) (Rockland County)

Batterer programs, some adhering to the above philosophy and some not, consistently appear in our communities. After much thought and discussion on the State level, because it was deemed important for principles guiding batterer programs to be fluid as our understanding of them was always changing, and because there was not an oversight body to ensure program accountability, New York State chose not to develop standards for batterer programs. OPDV does, however, provide guidance to batterer programs and the broader community in the form of the New York Model for Batterer Programs (NY Model).

The NY Model has been developed collectively between OPDV, NYSCADV, and the Project-funded programs. The mission of the NY Model is to create and promote a batterer program model that supports the social change efforts of the Battered Women's Movement. Any batterer program adhering to the NY Model exists as a service to the court, or an agent of the court, exclusively for men who appear as a result of their violent and abusive behavior toward women who are their intimate partners. Any such program is to be used by the court to monitor domestic violence offenders and as a mechanism for accountability. The intent is to provide one in a series of graduated sanctions for domestic violence crimes, not as a diversion from more serious consequences.

Twice a year, OPDV, NYSCADV and representatives of the Project-funded programs co-sponsor the National Training Institute NY Model for Batterer Programs: Updating Roles, Strategies & Outcomes, which includes examination of philosophical principles as well as recommendations for implementation. This training is designed for those with different levels of experience in batterer programs and others who work with men who batter.

For more information on batterer programs, the NY Model, or the National Training Institute, visit the OPDV web site or the New York Model for Batterer Programs web site.

Underlying principles of the NY Model include:

  • Batterer programs take leadership from the domestic violence movement.
  • Domestic violence is rooted in the historical precedent that accepted men controlling their female partners.
  • Only court mandated participants are enrolled.
  • Batterer programs exist as part of a coordinated community response to domestic violence.
  • Batterer programs are educational classes, not treatment.
  • To view batterer programs as treatment or rehabilitation is to suggest that battering is the result of pathology.
  • While the NY Model asserts that individual men can change their behavior, there is no reliable evidence to suggest that a class is an effective mechanism for change.
This material contains information obtained or adapted from: Working paper of the NY Model Batterer Program Workgroup

Civil Legal Services

Dealing with the court system can be challenging for anyone, but for victims who have to confront an intimate partner who has abused them, it can be even more difficult. In recognition of these unique challenges, supports within the criminal justice system have been developed, including specialized prosecutors, court advocates and employees of district attorneys' offices that work with victims.

In addition to navigating the criminal court system, however, there remains a need for assistance with civil matters, including dealing with custody, divorce and child support. A qualified attorney can be key in a victim's attempts to seek safety through the civil court system.

Domestic violence victims may need assistance with a range of civil legal problems, including, seeking orders of protection, divorce, custody, child support, housing, etc. As our understanding has grown, and as the laws have changed, the legal community has developed special skills in the area of domestic violence. But because this is a specialized field, and funding is limited, there is a dearth of qualified attorneys. In some communities, or for some victims, adequate legal representation is either unavailable or unaffordable.

In NYS, there is currently a patchwork of civil legal services to assist domestic violence victims. Some providers, such as domestic violence programs that have an attorney on staff, may be able to offer civil legal services to all clients, regardless of income. The statewide Domestic Violence Hotline can provide more information on these programs. Other providers, such as Legal Aid programs, may be restricted to clients with limited incomes. Information about low or no-cost civil legal services may be available from a variety of organizations, including the New York State Bar Association, the New York City Bar Association, and the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York. An example of an organization that provides low or no-cost legal services is featured as a Highlighted Program.

Civil legal assistance can include obtaining an order of protection in Family Court and filing petitions related to child custody, visitation or child support. Supreme Courts also function as civil courts when handling divorces; these courts can issue an order of protection as part of the divorce process. Additional civil matters, which usually do not involve courts, would include assistance with social services, housing, employment, disability services, consumer protection issues, etc.

Funding for domestic violence civil legal services is also a patchwork. The State provides limited funding to a small number of domestic violence programs and legal programs, specifically to assist with the full range of legal needs of domestic violence victims. The Violence Against Women Act funds a limited number of programs to provide civil legal services only. Civil legal services may also be provided by law school domestic violence clinics and special programs, such as bar association projects with pro bono (volunteer) attorneys.

There is some civil legal representation available at no cost to victims. Most of this representation is limited to lower-income individuals and families, and many of these victims are represented through the assigned counsel system (supported by federal, state and local county funds1). In NYS, lower income victims have a right to counsel in family offense and custody cases. These services vary by county, but are usually provided by either a public defender's office, attorneys from the "18B" panel or Legal Aid/Legal Services offices4. Most of these do not have specialized services for victims of domestic violence.

Highlighted Program:
The Legal Project

The Legal Project of the Capital Women's Bar Association provides free or reduced-fee legal representation and consultations to victims of domestic violence in the Capital District (Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Saratoga Counties). The program provides representation through a small core of staff attorneys and a panel of over 75 pro bono attorneys from the private bar, to handle cases in Family Court, divorces, and other civil legal matters. Because the program is designed to offer services to the "working poor," and recognizes that victims of domestic violence often have no access to family funds, it is unique in its ability to provide help to those who would not otherwise be eligible for assigned counsel or public legal services. The Legal Project is able to respond to the particular needs that victims have for effective, informed, and sensitive legal advice and representation. The Legal Project also provides CLE training and technical assistance to attorneys and advocates regarding civil legal issues related to domestic violence.

In 2005, The Legal Project responded to 729 cases involving domestic violence. A conservative estimate is that the Legal Project provides nearly $500,000 in pro bono legal services to victims of domestic violence annually. Without these services, many of these victims would likely go unrepresented; having an attorney helps them immeasurably in finding safety and independence.

Several universities in New York State have law schools with legal clinics that can provide information or services to victims of domestic violence. These include:

  • Albany Law School Domestic Violence Clinic
  • State University of Buffalo School of Law Family Violence Clinic
  • Pace University School of Law Women's Justice Program
  • Yeshiva University Benjamin J. Cardozo School of Law
  • City University of New York School of Law Battered Women's Rights Clinic
  • New York University School of Law

The law school clinics may offer civil legal representation for victims, provide training and practical experience for law students, participate in the preparation of amicus briefs specific to domestic violence concerns, or be involved in clemency applications for imprisoned women who have been abused or conduct research.

A comprehensive legal resource for low-income New Yorkers is LawHelp.org/NY.3 This service offers referrals to free legal services programs, information about legal rights, links to social services and government agencies and information about the court system.

This material includes information obtained or adapted from: Empire Justice Center web site.

  1. Federal funding comes through the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), while state funding comes from the New York's Interest on Lawyer Account (IOLA) program and the Legal Services Assistance Fund. These funds are not specific to domestic violence.
  2. Legal Services for New York City (LSNY) provides civil legal services; a list can be viewed at their website. A list of civil legal service programs in New York State outside of New York City can be viewed at the Empire Justice Center web site.
  3. LawHelp/NY is a collaborative project of: City Bar Justice Center, Legal Services for New York City, the Legal Aid Society of New York, Pro Bono Net, Volunteers of Legal Service, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Empire Justice Center, New York State Bar Association and Legal Assistance of Western New York.

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Family Justice Centers

Victims of domestic violence often have many co-existing service needs. Family Justice Centers were conceived to coordinate many of these needs in one place. These "one stop shops" provide access to comprehensive services by putting dedicated domestic violence prosecutors and essential service providers all under one roof.

With one appointment - and on-site childcare - victims of domestic violence are able to meet with a prosecutor, petition for an order of protection, receive legal assistance on housing and custody issues, speak with a counselor, and apply for housing and financial aid.

In 2003, the US Department of Justice announced the creation of the Family Justice Center Initiative. Fifteen grants were awarded nationwide. New York was the only state to be awarded funding for two Centers, one in Brooklyn and one in Buffalo. New York received over 2 million dollars to create the Centers, and an additional $300,000 to provide legal services. The Centers provide a wide spectrum of services, which could include:

  • Advocates from domestic violence victims' services organizations
  • Law enforcement and probation officers
  • Forensic medical professionals
  • Civil legal representation for immigration, housing and family court matters
  • Children's activities
  • Safety planning
  • Assistance with filing police reports
  • Counseling and support groups
  • Prosecution of domestic violence crimes
  • Services for elderly or disabled victims
  • Access to shelter and housing
  • Language interpretation
  • Chaplains
Brooklyn

The Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) and the Kings County District Attorney's Office opened the Family Justice Center in downtown Brooklyn. A key feature of the Center is the on-site presence of the entire Domestic Violence Bureau of the Kings County District Attorney's Office. The Center is also supported by representatives from 9 government agencies, 25 community-based organizations and programs, 6 faith-based organizations, and 5 universities.

The New York City Family Justice Center was the first in the nation to open under the federal Family Justice Center Initiative. To date, over 3,200 victims and their 650 children have received assistance at the Center.

Buffalo

The Erie County Family Justice Center in downtown Buffalo brings together 32 partner agencies to provide a safe place for victims of domestic violence to go for help. The center is a model of co-location where existing staff members from private and public entities have relocated to the center. Where appropriate, some community partners participate off-site, if doing so does not compromise victim safety or result in hardship to victims.

The opening of The Family Justice Center in Erie County culminates the work of a three-year community-wide strategic planning process (Erie County: A Coordinated Community Response to Family Violence 2005) to increase responsiveness, effectiveness, victim safety, and batterer accountability.

Victim Information and Notification Everyday - VINE

When an abuser is taken into custody, it can be a great relief for the victim, increasing her feelings of safety. But when the offender is released, an unprepared victim may be at greater risk. To address the need for notification of an offender's release, there is a resource for victims of crime in New York State - VINE: Victim Information and Notification Everyday. Callers to the VINE toll-free number can obtain information about offenders serving time in state prison or in New York City or sheriff's custody. VINE allows victims to register to receive a phone call to confirm the offender has been released.

VINE was enacted by the state Legislature in 1998 as part of Jenna's Law, which ended discretionary parole for first-time violent felony offenders. The service is available in both English and Spanish. More information can be found at the VINE website or by calling 1-888-VINE4NY (1-888-846-3469).

Conclusion

In addition to activities and programs on the state level, local criminal justice agencies in New York State have worked to enhance their response to domestic violence in recent years, and play a critical role in holding offenders accountable and supporting victim services. Along with developing specialized units within police departments, District Attorney's Offices and probation departments, many local criminal justice agencies have undergone specialized training, partnered with victim advocates and joined their local community coordination efforts. Police departments have enhanced their evidence collection efforts, with many communities equipping all of their police cars with cameras to be used in domestic violence cases. District Attorney's Offices have prosecuted cases without relying solely on the victim's participation and many have established staff positions in their agencies specifically to assist and support victims of domestic violence. Probation departments have embraced their vital role in holding domestic violence offenders accountable by investigating and documenting complete histories of violence in pre-plea and pre-sentence investigations, providing on-going supervision of offenders and reporting violations of court orders.

These and countless other efforts by local criminal justice agencies represent the commitment of communities in New York State to respond to cases of domestic violence, and to strategize how best to address the unique dynamics involved. However, while these systems work to better hold domestic violence offenders accountable for their criminal behavior, there remain many needs to be addressed. Providing services and enhancing safety for victims is equally as important as our criminal justice responses, and it is at the forefront of New York State's response to domestic violence.

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Advocacy and Direct Services - Domestic Violence

New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) is a statewide membership organization whose mission is to prevent and eliminate domestic violence through the promotion of victim safety, offender accountability and the broad social change necessary to confront oppression of every kind.

Since its inception in 1978, NYSCADV has been a driving force behind the development of over 100 domestic violence programs throughout New York State. NYSCADV works to build capacity at the program level and ensure the provision of effective and appropriate services to victims of domestic violence through community outreach, education, training, technical assistance, and policy development. Over the course of NYSCADV's twenty-five plus year history of coalition-building, it has had ongoing success in working collaboratively with agencies throughout New York State and with other state and national organizations on a wide variety of issues that impact women who are abused and their children.

NYSCADV's principles and practices:

  • Define domestic violence as a pattern of socially learned and culturally condoned coercive and controlling behavior, including physical, emotional, sexual and economic abuse, to establish and maintain control over an intimate partner, ex-partner or family member;
  • Prioritize the safety and confidentiality of women who are abused and their children;
  • Focus upon holding abusers accountable in all responses to domestic violence, including prevention, education and
  • social action;
  • Consider all women to be at risk of domestic violence by an intimate partner or ex-partner, regardless of their socio-economic status, race, sexual orientation, religion or cultural group;
  • Identify that women are the primary decision-maker in services provided to them, including all decisions related to their and their children's lives, safety and support;
  • Recognize that women who are abused are not responsible for abuse inflicted upon them by their intimate partners;
  • Support women's participation in the struggle to end personal and institutional violence against them;
  • Support local coordination efforts to improve a community's response to domestic violence; and
  • Promote a non-competitive atmosphere that fosters open communications, respect, and cooperation among all advocates and survivors.
"Our work dares nothing less than the broad social change necessary to confront oppression of every kind."

NYSCADV provides comprehensive services including: 24-hour statewide domestic violence hotline, community outreach and resources, training and technical assistance, public policy, coalition building and networking, intensive focus projects, and cultural competency.

Innovative Projects

Furthering NYSCADV's goals frequently requires intensive dedication of resources to a particular issue in order to elevate awareness, forge new partnerships, and/or progress through historic obstacles. Recent developments include NYSCADV's Prevention Project, Economic Justice Project, Supervised Visitation Project, Congress of Women of Color, Building Bridges Project, and Tech Safety Project. In some of these initiatives, NYSCADV has assumed the role of funder and project administrator.

The Prevention Project

NYSCADV's prevention work focuses on providing communities with the opportunity and resources to add a significant prevention focus to the traditional community coordination model. NYSCADV's Prevention Project focuses on preventing intimate partner violence from initially occurring through changing the social norms, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, which allow it to thrive in our communities.

NYSCADV's Prevention Project is funded primarily through the Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances Project (DELTA), a cooperative agreement made possible by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) awarded to NYSCADV and thirteen other state domestic violence coalitions.

The main goals of NYSCADV's Prevention Project are to enhance local coordinated community response efforts by supporting the planning and implementation of activities that prevent intimate partner domestic violence, to build prevention capacity at the state level by forming the NYS Intimate Partner Violence Consortium that will work collaboratively to enhance New York's capacity to plan, implement and evaluate prevention programming, activities and initiatives, and to enhance prevention capacity at NYSCADV so prevention principles are integral to all our projects, trainings, materials, and initiatives.

The five funded domestic violence programs for 2005 were: CONNECT, Inc., representing Kings County (Brooklyn); The YWCA of Niagara County, representing the Domestic Violence Intervention Project and Niagara County; Rockland Family Shelter, Inc. representing the STOP F.E.A.R. Coalition and Rockland County; A New Hope Center, Inc. representing the Community Response Network and Tioga County; and the Domestic Violence Project of Catholic Charities of Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties, representing the Domestic Violence Community Coordination Council and Warren and Washington Counties.

The Economic Justice Project

NYSCADV has been working on economic justice issues through a variety of projects and activities, as well as providing local programs with various training opportunities and technical assistance related to economic justice.

Through the Economic Justice Collaborative, NYSCADV partners with and funds three local domestic violence programs: Circulo de la Hispanidad, Inc., Vera House, Inc. and Victim Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, Inc.

The Supervised Visitation Project

NYSCADV is overseeing and administering a supervised visitation collaboration project, "Supervised Visitation: Enhancing Services for Children Who are Affected by Domestic Violence." The project's collaborative partners are The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) in New York City, Services to Aid Families, a division of Oswego County Opportunities in rural Oswego County, Inc. (OCO-SAF), and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).

The Building Bridges Project: A Domestic Violence and Disabilities Training and Technical Assistance Collaboration NYSCADV partners with the Center for Disability Rights (CDR) and the Empire Justice Center to improve services for women with disabilities who are abused. This statewide initiative allows three organizations to draw upon their respective expertise to help create an informed, educated, and inter-connected community of domestic violence and disability rights advocates in New York State who provide services to women who are abused with disabilities. This initiative is funded through the federal Violence Against Women Act. Congress of Women of Color

NYSCADV established the Congress of Women of Color (CWOC) in November, 2005, out of the longstanding recognition that women of color who have been abused face added burdens to achieving safety, justice, and economic security, and obtaining culturally competent services and support that will further those goals. Similarly, advocates who are women of color face added burdens to working successfully in the movement, obtaining leadership development opportunities, and securing management positions in the movement.

The purpose of the CWOC is to maximize the participation of people of non-European descent in the political, economic, and social processes of the movement to end violence against women, especially domestic violence.

The Tech Safety Project

The NYSCADV Tech Safety Project collaborates with the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) Safety Net Team to promote greater awareness about and best practices for preventing confidentiality and safety breaches through the use of technology.

The Tech Safety team provides training and technical assistance, produces materials and resources, and monitors NYSCADV's Tech Safety ListServ for domestic violence programs. The team has also recently participated in NNEDV Safety Net site visits for security reviews of New York's two Family Justice Centers. Domestic Violence Programs

During the 1970's, New York State saw the birth of its first domestic violence programs. Like the rest of the country, programs in New York started as shelters for victims of domestic violence and their children, often being operated out of private homes. Today, every one of New York State's 62 counties has at least one domestic violence program, with a total of 132 programs.

Domestic violence programs are as varied as the communities they serve. Some programs are small and have very few shelter beds, while some are quite large and operate shelters at multiple locations within their county. Some programs exist under parent organizations, such as the YWCA, and some are independent entities whose sole mission is providing services to domestic violence victims and their children. The majority of programs combine residential and non-residential services, but some programs offer only one of those, while another organization in the county provides the other.

Shelters, or residential programs, are designed to provide emergency shelter and services to assist victims and their children in seeking safety and self-sufficiency. Confidentiality and safety are the cornerstones of these programs and therefore, the shelter location and identity of residents are kept anonymous. In New York State, residential programs are available for up to 90 days with extensions of up to 45 days under certain circumstances. (A description of the different categories of residential programs can be found under "Regulations.")

When most people think of domestic violence services, they think only of shelter. In reality, however, shelter is but a small part of the services needed by victims of domestic violence. Because of this, it is imperative that other services are available to meet victims' other, on-going needs. Non-residential programs provide services similar to residential programs without the overnight stay. Victims seeking assistance who do not require shelter or do not want to leave home often find help through these programs.

Non-residential programs are required to provide certain core services and are approved through the county consolidated services planning process. The primary funding source for non-residential programs is through individually negotiated contracts with local Departments of Social Services, or Human Resources Administration (HRA) in New York City.

In 2005, there were a total of 2,768* shelter beds through approved domestic violence programs in New York State. Of those beds, 1,960 were in New York City. In 2005, 7,080 adults and 8,831 children received residential services and 28,064 adults and 10,806 children received non-residential services at licensed and approved domestic violence programs in New York State. In the same year, 10,099 adults and 11,699 children were denied residential services in New York State**. The most common reason for denial was that the shelter was filled to capacity when services were sought.

The core services are:

  • 24-hour telephone hotline assistance;
  • Information and referral;
  • Counseling;
  • Advocacy; and
  • Community education and outreach.

In addition to what is required, local programs frequently offer other services, such as:

  • Legal services;
  • Career services;
  • Skills-building services;
  • Non-residential support groups;
  • Non-residential children's services; and
  • Transportation.

* This number does not include safe home beds. Domestic violence agencies licensed to operate safe homes may oversee many safe homes. The bed capacities of these networks are not reported to OCFS because they are often composed of private residences whose capacities change frequently.

** Denial data does not take into account duplicate requests from victims denied by more than one residential program.

Regulations

The Domestic Violence Prevention Act, landmark New York State legislation passed in 1987, requires local social services districts to provide residential and non-residential services to victims of domestic violence at a licensed or approved program, regardless of the person's financial eligibility. It also provided the authority for the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS, known at that time as the NYS Department of Social Services) to establish the funding mechanism to support this mandate. In an era of reduced funding, the impacts of this legislation were phenomenal. As a result of this act, three sets of regulations were promulgated:

  • Parts 452-455 of 18 NYCRR establishing the standards for the operation of residential programs for victims of domestic violence;
  • Part 462 of 18 NYCRR establishing the standards for non-residential services to victims of domestic violence; and
  • Part 408 of 18 NYCRR regarding the establishment of per diem rates and social services district responsibility for financial and contractual arrangements with providers of residential services to victims of domestic violence.

Three categories of programs are included in the Domestic Violence Prevention Act:

Residential Programs for Victims of Domestic Violence - The Domestic Violence Program Regulations (18 NYCRR Parts 452-455) define four types of Residential Programs for Victims of Domestic Violence:

Domestic Violence Shelters - congregate facilities of 10 beds or more for victims of domestic violence and their children only;

Domestic Violence Programs - similar to shelters except that up to 30% of the residents may be other than domestic violence victims;

Safe Dwellings - self contained units of nine beds or less for domestic violence victims and their children only; and

Safe Home Networks - clusters of private homes for victims of domestic violence and their children, coordinated by a not-for-profit organization. This model is fairly rare and typically used only as a last resort.

Non-Residential Programs for Victims of Domestic Violence - not-for-profit organizations or public agencies providing telephone hotline assistance, information, referral, counseling, advocacy, community education and outreach services. Transitional Housing Programs - programs which are not defined in the regulations, but that have emerged to address the longer-term housing and service needs of victims of domestic violence after leaving emergency residential programs.

Eligibility

The only eligibility requirement to receive domestic violence services is an assertion that one is a victim of domestic violence. To be eligible to access a domestic violence program, a victim does not need to be married to the abuser, have children with them, or even live with them. They need only to have, or have had, an intimate relationship with the person who is abusing them.

See Appendix A for a list of licensed and approved domestic violence programs and certified rape crisis programs in New York State.

Additional Domestic Violence Service Providers

There are other service providers and programs providing domestic violence services operating outside the definitions of licensed residential or approved non-residential programs. Such programs operate under a variety of circumstances, but can be especially key in response to the needs of marginalized or particularly close-knit communities, or a subset of especially vulnerable survivors. There are programs that offer comprehensive services related to circumstances, identity or affiliation, of which domestic violence services are a part. The ability of these programs to provide culturally appropriate services is essential to adequately meeting the needs of women from those communities. There are also programs offering related services that some women who are abused request, such as legal or immigration assistance, or treatment for addiction disorders, among others. Regardless of their status regarding domestic violence licensure, these programs play an important role in the overall response in New York to domestic violence, and raise the bar for outreach to underserved communities. See "Highlighted Program Voices of Women Organizing Project" for an example of these services.

This material includes information obtained or adapted from:

  • OCFS 2004 Annual Report to the Governor and Legislature on the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.
Highlighted Program:
Voices of Women Organizing Project

Voices of Women Organizing Project (VOW) is a grass-roots advocacy organization comprised entirely of survivors of domestic violence. With training and support, survivors organize to improve policies and practices that affect women who are abused. Through VOW, survivors discover that they have a powerful voice which can influence the response to domestic violence in New York City. VOW believes that efforts to end domestic violence must be informed by those most affected by the issue.

VOW was created to empower women who have survived abuse to identify their needs and to actively participate in solving the problems that affect them and other women who are abused. It is the only organization in New York City, and only one in a handful in the country, that empowers survivors in their journey from victim to survivor to advocate.

To prepare members for advocacy, VOW offers monthly meetings, trainings, workshops and individual coaching to help survivors develop leadership and organizing skills. A distinctive aspect of the program is the Healing Expressions Committee, which provides workshops and special activities that help women in process the feelings that come up during public speaking and advocacy. VOW members are given a safe environment to explore feelings, share their experiences, heal, and maintain vitality and health through their organizing efforts. Some of the Healing Expressions topics include journaling, expression through poetry, expression through movement (dance), coming to terms with loss and guilt, and nutrition and healthy eating.

For more information on VOW, visit their website. This material includes information obtained or adapted from:

  • Voices of Women Organizing Project (VOW) website.

 

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Domestic Violence Hotlines

In 1981, the English Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline was established by the NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) in New York State. NYSCADV continues to operate the Hotline, 800-942-6906, with oversight from OPDV. The 24-hour hotline responds to thousands of calls annually, providing crisis intervention, information, referrals and counseling to victims of domestic violence and other concerned individuals.

In 2005, the Hotline received a total of 17,089 hotline calls. In addition, the Hotline received a total of 2,480 technical assistance calls. These calls were most often from service providers, and were related to issues such as public policy, training, program development, expert witness and officer involved domestic violence. The operation of the English Hotline uncovered a significant need for services to Spanish-speaking victims of domestic violence. As a result, the Spanish Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-942-6908, was established in New York State in 1985. As with the English Hotline, OPDV provides administrative oversight to this 24-hour hotline that provides assistance to Spanish-speaking victims of domestic violence and others. The Spanish Hotline is operated by Violence Intervention Program, Inc. (VIP) located in New York City. In 2005, the Spanish Hotline received a total of 5,322 calls from victims of domestic violence, helping professionals and other concerned individuals.

Both Hotlines were developed to aid local domestic violence programs and to connect victims to services. The Hotline staff have extensive knowledge of the complex issues related to domestic violence as well as services available for victims both statewide and nationally. The intent of the Statewide Hotlines is not to provide on-going services, but to provide immediate information and connect callers to their local domestic violence program to receive the assistance they require.

Local Hotlines

In addition to the New York State hotlines, local domestic violence programs in New York State (except New York City) also maintain their own hotlines. Calls to local hotlines go directly to the domestic violence programs in those areas, resulting in 24-hour a day, seven day a week services available to victims of domestic violence on the local level. Annually, local domestic violence hotlines respond to tens of thousands of calls.

New York City Hotline

Unlike the rest of the state, most domestic violence programs in New York City do not maintain their own hotlines. In an effort to consolidate resources, they utilize the New York City Domestic Violence Hotline, operated by Safe Horizon, to handle calls and refer victims for on-going services.

In 2005, the New York City domestic violence hotline, 800-621-HOPE, answered a total of 124,515 calls.

All of these hotlines demonstrate New York's commitment to respond to domestic violence victims on an immediate and on-going basis. Additionally, the hotlines collect data on the concerns and issues facing callers, which assist policy makers in funding and service delivery determinations on the State and local level. Countless victims, professionals and concerned individuals have been assisted by the Hotlines since their inception, making this vital resource key in New York's response to domestic violence.

National Hotline

In addition to the hotlines within New York State, there is also a National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233); 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Started in 1996, the National Domestic Violence hotline provides 24-hour assistance and responds to over 16,500 calls a month.In 2005, the National Domestic Violence responded to 6,586 calls from New York State.

This material includes information obtained or adapted from:

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline web site

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Advocacy and Direct Services - Sexual Assault

Because there is a tremendous overlap with domestic violence, New York State's response to sexual assault is included in this publication. As domestic violence advocates will tell you, sexual assault is typically one of the last things they hear about from the women they work with, because of the deeply personal nature of the violence. It is rare, however, to find a victim of domestic violence who had not also been sexually assaulted by her intimate partner.

Because of the significant connection between sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as a continual shortage of resources, many communities in New York State have chosen to combine local rape crisis and domestic violence services, creating dual domestic violence/sexual assault programs.

Like domestic violence, sexual assault is a pervasive crime that affects us all. There is no "typical" victim. In 2004, there were 209,880 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assaults in the United States according to the National Crime Victimization Survey. According to the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) there were 23,368 rapes and other sex offenses reported to police departments in New York State in 2001. While these numbers are staggering, it is also estimated that the vast majority of sexual assaults go unreported. Sexual assault is not about sex. Like domestic violence, it is a crime that, at its core, is about power and control. This material includes information obtained or adapted from:

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

The mission of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) is to end all forms of sexual violence and exploitation by advocating for the effective response to all people affected by sexual assault, providing technical support and assistance to rape crisis programs, working legislatively to improve public policy, and confronting societal denial of the impact of sexual violence through statewide outreach and education.

Founded in 1987 and located in Albany, New York, NYSCASA represents the 78 New York State Department of Health-funded rape crisis programs, and has a membership of allied organizations and individuals.

NYSCASA membership is open to any individual or organization wishing to align with the work to end sexual violence. Members pay dues at varied levels and receive monthly electronic and semi-annual paper newsletters; notices of training opportunities, strategies and action alerts on public policies; and mailings about NYSCASA's annual Legislative Awareness Day, annual meeting and more. NYSCASA provides action alerts specifically to the rape crisis programs and urges them to share the information with allied organizations in their communities. These core program members provide direct services to survivors and their loved ones, advocate for policy change and conduct community education.

During 2005, NYSCASA:

  • Conducted the NYS Rape Crisis Training Institute;
  • Coordinated the Northeast regional meeting of the National Resource Sharing Project (RSP) with a focus on anti-racism;
  • Assisted in the planning of the national RSP meeting;
  • Spoke at the national Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) conference;
  • Presented at the NYS Police Academy, and Family Planning Advocates of NYS conference;
  • Participated in a national symposium on the ten year anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, the US Department of Justice law enforcement advisory panel on elder abuse and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) rape prevention education strategic planning groups; and
  • Held the inaugural New York State Victim Assistance Academy for 50 crime victim service providers, where victim rights and services were taught within the framework of power and oppression that impacts delivery of and access to services and victims' capacity to heal.

NYSCASA has partnered with the National Resource Sharing Project for state coalitions, NYS Office of Mental Health, the New York Prosecutor's Training Institute, NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, Center for Women in Government and Civil Society, Center for Court Innovation, and Self Advocacy Association for persons with disabilities. Staff members sit on advisory boards with NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the NYS Crime Victims Board, CDC Strategic Planning Group, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Violence Against Women Network, NYS Attorney General's Office, and the NYS Office of Mental Health Statewide Trauma Committee. NYSCASA holds a seat on the NYS Alliance of Sex Offender Service Providers board, NYS Department of Health grantee group; and participates on the Emergency Contraception (EC) Coalition, Women in Prison Coalition, Immigrant Women's Network, Dignity for All Students Coalition, and Congress of Women of Color Against Violence Against Women.

NYSCASA has a seat on the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Violence Against Women Advisory Committee and works closely with NYS DCJS STOP Formula Grants/ Byrne Formula Grants staff to ensure that the State Plan is drafted to include concepts of inclusively, sensitivity to survivors of sexual violence and effective collaboration among local community partners in all systems that provide services to survivors and address issues of community safety and violence prevention. NYSCASA continues to facilitate a Task Force on Disabilities and Sexual Assault in New York State, formed five years ago. The Criminal Justice Collaboration Project has offered trainings to hundreds of rape crisis staff, law enforcement, sexual assault examiners, staff and allies to provide legal advocacy and technical assistance on the changes in laws and procedures regarding sexual violence.

The DCJS-funded Forensic Education program held three trainings in 2005 and two International Association of Forensic Nurses test preparation classes in 2006.

NYSCASA's Outreach Project is designed to assess the strengths and needs of rape crisis programs and formulate strategies for outreach and service delivery to underserved and un-served communities. To date informational brochures on working with survivors with developmental disabilities, elders, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been created and distributed.

Public policy and legislative advocacy provides sexual assault advocates with a unified voice, which has resulted in a number of penal code reforms and the establishment of new laws. NYSCASA works with a broad array of allies to advocate for passage of legislation beneficial to sexual assault survivors and the programs that serve them.

The Disability and Sexual Assault Education Project is a collaborative initiative between NYSCASA and the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State to train law enforcement officers about meeting the needs and understanding the rights of individuals with disabilities who are victims of sexual violence. The overall goal of the project is to ensure an informed criminal justice response to individuals with disabilities who are victims of sexual violence in communities across New York State. The Building Connections project is a collaboration between NYSCASA and the NYS Office of Mental Health to establish and support task forces specifically aimed at improving services for survivors of sexual trauma by linking mental health and rape crisis program staff. The Resource Library allows service providers and NYSCASA members access to books, CDs, curricula and other resources on topics related to sexual violence.

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Rape Crisis Centers

In New York State, rape crisis centers are regulated by the Department of Health (DOH). There are 55 programs providing services at 77 sites throughout the State, with at least one program in every county of New York State. These programs provide many different services to the communities they are in as well as services to victims of sexual assault. The services funded by DOH are free of charge and include:

24-Hour Crisis Telephone Hotlines

Rape crisis centers provide seven-day-a-week, private telephone response to calls 24 hours a day, year round, to victims and to significant others in need of crisis intervention services and information and referral. The hotlines must be listed under rape crisis in local telephone directories.

Accompaniment Services

These services assure the presence of a trained crisis worker for a sexual assault victim at hospitals, law enforcement agencies, District Attorney's offices and courts. Accompaniment is available 24 hours a day and the victim must be met within 60 minutes.

Advocacy Services

This service provides intervention on behalf of a specific individual or on behalf of all victims. Intervention may take the form of interactions with individuals, agencies, organizations, or groups that focus on promoting responses and services that address the needs and rights of survivors. Rape crisis centers advocate for victims of sexual assault according to the following standards:

  • Empower every victim to make their own personal decisions.
  • Provide non-judgmental, sensitive support and information.
  • Explain to the victim what the medical and legal proceedings will consist of and why procedures, tests, or exams are being requested.
  • Discuss the victim's rights and options regarding medical and legal procedures.
  • Help the victim to become more comfortable in interacting with medical, law enforcement, or court personnel.
  • Help the victim access information regarding their case within the medical or legal proceedings.
Referral Services

This service provides additional resources to help a victim resolve an unmet need. Rape crisis centers provide information and referrals to both victims of sexual assault and the general public. Making a referral includes telling the individual what the service referred to can offer, why it may be helpful and how to obtain the service, and following up to ascertain whether the victim did receive the service.

Counseling Services
  • Individual counseling is supportive, individual communication and interaction which helps people make choices and act on those choices. Counseling focuses on providing information that enables a victim to make decisions and facilitates exploration of feelings that affect such decisions. Through the decision-making process, counseling can help people correct a situational problem, expand their skills, and restore a sense of well-being. All programs must make an appropriate referral when it is determined that a victim needs counseling beyond that which is available from the project.
  • Group counseling is an established method of treatment which can be an extremely valuable component of the recovery process. Offering group services is optional, and is not required by DOH.
Community Education, Professional Training and Outreach

All rape crisis programs provide community education, professional training and outreach to their community.

  • Educational programs provide primary prevention to prevent the initial perpetration of sexual assault or rape. They may also provide information on the incidence of rape and sexual assault in the community.
  • Professional training includes formal training programs, conferences, seminars or workshops designed for a professional group to provide specialized instruction about sexual assault as it relates to the profession.
  • Outreach is educational activities that provide information about the issues of sexual assault and which highlight the availability of services.
Confidentiality Assurances

The confidentiality of communication between rape victims and counselors is essential and should be available to all who seek services. New York State's Health Commissioner has statutory authority to grant approval to rape crisis providers for the rape crisis confidentiality privilege. Approved centers are able to certify appropriately trained counselors. Rape crisis projects must meet regulatory standards (Sub-part 69-5 to Part 69 of Title 10 (Health) of the New York State Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations (10NYCRR) to ensure the confidentiality of victim communication and records.

During 2004-2005, Rape crisis centers provided prevention education to approximately 148,000 individuals (80 percent of whom were children and adolescents), provided intervention and counseling 140,444 times, and responded to 18,409 hotline calls. See Appendix A for a list of certified rape crisis programs and licensed and approved domestic violence programs.

Additional Sexual Assault Service Providers

There are other programs providing services to survivors of sexual violence that do not meet the definition of certified rape crisis centers. Some exist under the umbrella of domestic violence or crime victim assistance programs, shelters, transitional housing, rehabilitation services, community centers, peer advocacy groups, social organizations, women's centers, mental health associations, public health clinics, counseling centers, district attorney or other law enforcement offices, or faith based institutions. Many of these programs have a particular emphasis on a certain subset of the population, and have the ability to provide culturally appropriate services to that group. These services are vital to sexual assault survivors and although they are not among the programs that are State-certified as rape crisis centers, they add to the response to sexual assault in New York and provide necessary assistance to victims and communities alike.

These additional programs and services can vary considerably and may not be available for 24-hour crisis intervention or accompaniment. While these programs should not be used in lieu of certified rape crisis centers, there may be occasions when a survivor is best served through a combination of these programs and the local certified rape crisis program. See "Highlighted Program Casa Atabex Aché" for an example of these services.

Highlighted Program:
Casa Atabex Aché

Since 1994, Casa Atabex Aché (Casa) has been "Building A Movement of Alternatives" for women of color in the South Bronx. Casa uses a non-traditional holistic approach to promote healing, transformation and social change. Casa's philosophy is that constant violence in the lives of women leads to various problems such as depression, chronic stress, anxiety disorders, drug use, illness, abusive relationships, self-mutilation, disordered eating, smoking, STDs, alcoholism, and cancer. Their goal is to heal mind, body and spirit, replacing what is not working in women's lives with positive, life-affirming ways of living.

All of Casa's programs focus individually and collectively on personal and shared issues. The women support each other in breaking the pattern of individualism, isolation, guilt and self-blame using Casa's self-healing process and emotional release model. Self-healing through self-awareness and release creates change in the individual's life while fostering collective healing.

Three of Casa's programs - the Fuerza/Power program for 12-18 year olds, the Entre Mujeres/Between Womyn program for adult women and the Warrior Womyn/Mujeres Guerreras technical assistance/training program include curanderas (healers) and more than twenty holistic practitioners who volunteer to provide monthly programs and workshops focused upon reproductive health, violence against women, child sexual abuse, and holistic therapies. For more information on Casa, visit their website.

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Sexual Assault Examiner Programs

Sexual Assault Examiner (SAE) programs were established in New York State in 1995 to improve the delivery of emergency care to victims of sexual assault.

SAE programs were designed to address traditional problems sexual assault victims often experienced seeking emergency care including:

  • Having to endure long waits in busy public areas;
  • Not being allowed to eat, drink, or urinate while they wait for a physician or nurse to conduct the evidentiary exam, to avoid destroying evidence; and
  • Physicians or nurses performing evidentiary exams who had not been trained in forensic evidence collection procedures or did not perform these procedures frequently enough to maintain proficiency.

New York's SAE programs have four goals. First and foremost is to restore the health and well-being of sexual assault victims by treating their physical and psychological trauma. Next is to develop a team of specially-trained health care professionals to perform forensic exams and provide aftercare. Similarly, SAE programs seek to create and develop specialized training for future sexual assault forensic examiners. Finally, the programs seek to improve crime reporting and the conviction rate for sexual assault through collaboration with law enforcement and prosecutors.

Most of New York's SAE programs are supported by federal STOP Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funds, which are administered by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). The SAE programs are generally operated by staff in hospitals and/or rape crisis centers.

New York State SAE programs have established procedures for standard and comprehensive care to all sexual assault victims. Examiners are specifically trained to care for these victims. When victims sustain serious injuries, forensic examiners ensure that their medical needs are met first. Examiners are trained to provide a sensitive examination and collect forensic evidence as components of the overall treatment process. Examiners are usually available to victims within 60 minutes of their admission to hospital facilities.

Private areas are dedicated for victim treatment within emergency rooms and may include waiting areas, exam rooms, showers, phones, and forensic equipment. Some programs also provide a change of clothes for victims. SAE programs follow up with victims once initial treatment and evidence collection are completed. This aftercare provides for information counseling, medical treatment, and crisis intervention for the victim.

Another essential element in the operation of SAE programs is collaboration with other agencies. These programs work with law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, emergency medical services, community organizations, and volunteers to integrate service providers under the umbrella of the SAE. This collaboration recognizes sexual assault as a serious crime which requires immediate attention.

Some SAE programs receive donations and volunteer support from business and community programs. Additionally, sexual assault evidence kits are available free of charge to hospitals in New York State by contacting the DCJS Bureau of Justice Funding, Violence Against Women Unit at (518) 457-9726.

Like domestic violence and rape crisis centers, SAE programs vary based on the communities in which they are located. SAE programs operate in large metropolitan and suburban communities, and in rural counties across New York State. While each follows basic protocols, programs also incorporate unique elements as needed by their service area. SAE programs may offer training to ancillary medical staff who have contact with victims, conduct public speaking and outreach activities, and train law enforcement and prosecutorial staff.

See Appendix B for a list of Sexual Assault Examiner programs.

This material includes information obtained or adapted from:
NYS Department of Health (DOH) SAFE Centers of Excellence

The Sexual Assault Reform Act, enacted in 2000, significantly expanded the role of DOH in addressing sexual assault. The legislation directs DOH to designate interested hospitals in the state as sites of 24-hour sexual assault forensic examiner (SAFE) programs. These hospitals are centers of excellence for the provision of sexual assault services and modeled upon the state's trauma centers. To date, 29 hospitals are designated as SAFE hospitals.

In conjunction with an expert workgroup, DOH has developed standards for certification of SAFE programs, individual sexual assault forensic examiners and training programs for sexual assault forensic examiners. The program and individual examiner standards and certification requirements for the SAFE initiatives have been approved and have been mailed to all hospitals in New York State. Draft regulations governing the operation of the hospital-based SAFE programs have been forwarded for departmental internal review and approval. DOH has also approved two SAFE training program applications: the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault and Family Services, Inc. There are currently approximately 79 examiners who are Department of Health-certified.

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Protecting Children

Protecting children is a high priority in New York State's response to domestic violence. Efforts are being made to enhance the safety of children and services available to them on both a State and local level.

Many domestic violence programs offer extensive services specifically geared toward the children of victims of domestic violence, including children's support groups, individual counseling for children and advocacy for children within schools and other systems they encounter in their daily lives. Several communities in New York also have Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) that handle cases of child abuse or child fatalities in a multidisciplinary, intensive manner. Many CACs involve the local domestic violence program as an integral member of the team, in recognition of the significant overlap of child abuse and domestic violence. Similarly, some communities have supervised visitation available for civil court cases. A significant number of these cases involve domestic violence. As a result, supervised visitation centers often work with local domestic violence programs or task forces to ensure they are addressing the safety and other needs of victims of domestic violence and their children in a consistent and meaningful way.

These services and others from around the State are a vital part of the response to domestic violence, and seek to protect some of New York's most vulnerable citizens: children.

Child Protective Services/Domestic Violence Collaborations

The overlap between child abuse and domestic violence is well documented, showing that when there is child abuse there is a high probability that domestic violence is also present. The child welfare system is increasingly confronted with complex issues where these two enormous social issues co-exist. When conducting a child protective services (CPS) investigation, it is important to determine if there is domestic violence present so a worker can accurately assess the children's safety and provide appropriate interventions.

In an effort to promote coordination between systems and to enhance the safety of victims of domestic violence and their children, the Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS) has funded collaboration projects between CPS and domestic violence programs in several New York State communities since 1996. Currently mostly Federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FFVPSA) funding is used to support these projects. These CPS/Domestic Violence Collaboration Projects, first piloted by New York State communities such as Warren, Washington and Orange Counties as well as other pioneers, are meant to better serve families experiencing violence in their homes through the partnering of CPS workers and domestic violence advocates.

In each of the funded projects, an advocate from a domestic violence program is co-located at the CPS office and typically provides case consultation, participates in home visits and cross training, and works with caseworkers to safety plan with victims of domestic violence and their children. Domestic violence and CPS staff also participate in a workgroup to case conference and to develop and modify joint case practice protocols as needed. Protocols in each county typically include screening tools and joint casework practice guidelines. As a result of these projects, CPS workers are better able to identify domestic violence and are learning more about domestic violence dynamics and appropriate responses for victims and their children, and domestic violence advocates are learning more about CPS mandates and responsibilities and how to intervene with child abuse cases. Staff in both arenas report improved relationships that have resulted in better safety and self-sufficiency plans for families experiencing both child abuse and domestic violence, and ultimately the prevention of further abuse and out of home placements. The programs funded by OCFS in 2005 were:

  • Equinox, Inc. (Albany County)
  • Liberty Resources, Inc. (Madison County)
  • Alternatives for Battered Women, Inc. (Monroe County)
  • Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Catholic Charities of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, NY (Onondaga County)
  • Unity House, Inc. (Rensselaer County)
  • Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk County
  • My Sisters' Place (Westchester County)

This material includes information obtained or adapted from:

  • OCFS 2004 Annual Report to the Governor and Legislature on the Domestic Violence Prevention Act
  • NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) web site.
Court Appointed Special Advocates CASA: Advocates for Children of New York State

CASA: Advocates for Children of NYS (CASANYS) promotes and supports trained community volunteer advocacy programs that assist Family Courts in making crucial decisions affecting children in 34 counties across New York State.

CASANYS's philosophy is that all children have a right to a safe and permanent home and deserve the support and involvement of their community when their safety is at risk or their permanency is jeopardized. CASANYS offers training, technical assistance, information and support to member programs. They also work with other statewide court, social service and children's advocacy programs on policy-related issues.

The heart of the program is the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), a specially trained and supervised community volunteer, appointed by a Family Court judge. CASAs help to secure safe and permanent homes for abused and neglected children by gathering information and monitoring cases involving children at risk of being placed and who are currently in foster care. CASAs take only one or two cases at a time, allowing ample time to gather thorough information.

Because a significant portion of the cases assigned to a CASA program include families where there is domestic violence and/or sexual assault, it is crucial for the CASA program to work closely with the domestic violence and sexual assault community. In 2005, CASANYS convened an advisory group to assist in the enhancement of an existing National CASA training module on domestic violence for CASA volunteers, statewide. The advisory group was made up of representatives from the NYS Office of Children and Family Services, Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Coalition Against Domestic Violence and local domestic violence and CASA organizations from around the State.

This material includes information obtained or adapted from:

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Public Awareness

One of the most critical tools for creating social change is changing public attitudes and beliefs. It's a tremendous challenge, one best addressed through education and outreach at the national, state and local levels. Some of New York State's public awareness projects are highlighted below but there are countless other activities taking place around the state, spearheaded by groups such as domestic violence programs, fraternal and civic organizations, private businesses and volunteers.

Media Campaigns

The NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) conducts media campaigns on an annual basis. In 2005, the focus was teen dating violence. Three radio spots were developed with the theme, "If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't." During a two-month period, the radio spots were aired 12,785 times on 187 radio stations in the State. Through a partnership with the New York State Broadcasters Association, OPDV received significantly more and better-placed airtime than would otherwise have been possible. Corresponding kiosk posters were displayed in 16 malls throughout the State. They feature a female teen with a UPC barcode across her forehead with the heading, "You are not his property." The kiosk won a NORI Award from the Albany Ad Club; this award is made to the best of advertising and marketing projects in the Capital District.

Also in 2005, OPDV honored the winners of the Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships Media Contest at a press conference. The event was held at the State Capitol and was attended by a large audience including legislators and the news media. The contest, co-sponsored by OPDV and First Lady Libby Pataki, invited students in grades 9-12 to submit posters, songs and music videos that could be used to raise awareness about the seriousness of teen dating violence. Teen judges selected the winning posters and music video from almost 200 entries. The winning poster and collateral materials were distributed to 1,800 high schools in the state.

Public Education Materials

One component of OPDV's Public Education and Outreach initiative is the publication and dissemination of materials such as posters, brochures and other materials. Public Education Materials are available in bulk quantities as well as in on-line formats for downloading and printing.

During 2005, OPDV disseminated over 200,000 materials to 700 organizations. The organizations most requesting materials were domestic violence service providers and health care providers. Most reported they would use material for community education and victim assistance.

Web Site Redesign

OPDV has maintained a rich and informative web site for more than five years. In October 2005, a complete redesign was launched to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This web site is a comprehensive source of information about domestic violence including help for victims, legislation, information for professionals working in the criminal justice and health and human services arenas, statistics, relevant links, and a list of OPDV's available publications. The revised web site has an updated color scheme, new menus, and enhanced navigability. During the first three months of the rollout of the redesign, the web site received more than 286,000 "hits."

Youth Education Campaign

The NYC Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) oversaw development of a grassroots public education campaign that encourages adolescents involved in a dating relationship in which there is domestic violence to call the City's hotlines and service providers. Materials developed by OCDV were distributed to public middle and high schools, hospitals, and after-school programs. To date, the Department of Youth and Community Development and the Department of Education have distributed more than 115,000 brochures, palm-sized information cards, and posters in 10 languages to adolescents throughout the New York City school system.

Multi-Language Outreach

To address the fact that 36% of New York City's population is foreign-born, OCDV partnered with local domestic violence service providers to design and distribute educational materials in 19 languages. Additionally, public service announcements (PSAs) in Chinese, Korean and Spanish were produced and aired on local radio and television stations.

Creative Approaches to Prevention

A Call to Men

Historically it has been almost entirely women who have been at the forefront addressing violence against women, but one of the most effective methods of preventing domestic violence is for men, working in concert with domestic violence and sexual assault organizations, to give the message to other men.

A Call To Men is a New York-based, national men's organization that believes that ending violence against women and eradicating sexism is primarily the responsibility of men, and that men who don't see themselves as part of the problem need to get involved.

In 2005, A Call To Men held its first annual national conference in New York City for over 500 attendees. More than 20 domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions were funded to attend the conference to develop strategies for implementing this work throughout the country.

By working with groups across the United States, A Call To Men is shifting social norms that define manhood in this culture and producing a national movement of men committed to ending violence against women. This non-traditional approach, combined with local DELTA project efforts (see below), has already led to the outgrowth of local programs, such as the Northern New York Call To Men. Through seminars, workshops and other educational vehicles, A Call To Men challenges men to reconsider their long held beliefs about women and create a more just society.

For more information, visit the A Call to Men web site.

The DELTA Program

Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) is a project designed to specifically focus on the prevention of intimate partner violence. DELTA was created and funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to facilitate the adoption of "primary" prevention principles and strategies at the community level. "Primary" prevention - stopping the violence before it starts - is achieved by changing the social norms, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that allow intimate partner violence to thrive. The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) coordinates the DELTA Program in New York, and was one of fourteen state coalitions to receive these funds.

NYSCADV partners with domestic violence programs across the state to increase the prevention capacity of local Community Coordinated Response (CCR) teams. There were five participating programs in 2005. Each CCR participating in DELTA has adopted a community organizing approach and has successfully infused their local CCR with a significant primary prevention focus. Using methods borrowed from both the public health perspective and successful social change movements, DELTA Project participants have designed and implemented activities and strategies that engage community members in changing community conditions that permit intimate partner violence to occur. A list of the CCRs and more information about DELTA can be found in the NYSCADV section.

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Domestic Violence Prevention and High-Risk Youth Project

The NYC Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence and the Department of Youth and Community Development partner on a project to prevent dating violence in one of the City's most vulnerable populations - runaway homeless youth, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, immigrants, youth sexually exploited through prostitution, and teenage mothers with children.

Through focus groups, one-on-one interviews and surveys, project staff collected baseline data to assess the extent of the problem citywide. The data informed the adaptation of a curriculum to teach youth about the dynamics of domestic violence and healthy relationships. Peer Leaders received training on this curriculum and began conducting workshops on healthy relationships for at-risk youth in runaway homeless youth programs, schools and community centers. Staff at runaway homeless youth and domestic violence programs also received training on a new staff curriculum so they could better assist youth needing help and services.

This material includes information obtained or adapted from:

New York City Initiatives

In 2001, New York City residents voted to amend the City Charter to establish a permanent office that would comprehensively address issues of domestic violence. The Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) formulates policies and programs, monitors the citywide delivery of domestic violence services, and works with diverse communities to increase awareness of domestic violence.

OCDV works closely with community leaders, health care providers, City agencies and representatives from the criminal justice system to hold batterers accountable and to create solutions that are critical to preventing domestic violence in New York City.

The following is a list of some activities and accomplishments in New York City:
  • Family Justice Center: In 2005, the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence and the Kings County District Attorney's Office opened the Family Justice Center in downtown Brooklyn. (See the "Criminal Justice and the Legal System" section for more information.)
  • Hotline: The New York City Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-621-HOPE), operated by Safe Horizon, is the entry point for victims seeking shelter or services. In 2005, the hotline responded to a total of 124,515 calls.
  • Domestic Violence Response Teams Program (DVRT): The DVRT Program coordinates the delivery of domestic violence services to high-risk households in those precincts in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens with the highest rates of domestic violence.
  • New York City Police Department (NYPD): The NYPD has dedicated Domestic Violence Prevention Officers in each of its 76 precincts. Police officers respond to over 222,000 domestic violence calls each year.
  • Language Line Program: The OCDV/NYPD Language Line Program equips law enforcement with telephones that instantly connect to an interpreter, so a victim can tell her story in her own language.
  • Digital 911 System: The digital 911 system allows judges to hear recordings of victims' 911 calls at arraignments, before bail is set.
  • Project H.E.A.L. (Health Emergency Assistance Link): Project H.E.A.L. is a comprehensive plan to improve the services provided to domestic violence victims at all eleven City public hospitals.
  • Clinician Guide for Identifying, Treating and Preventing Family Violence: The Health and Hospital Corporation consolidated their existing family violence policies in the Clinician Guide for Identifying, Treating and Preventing Family Violence, which serves as a practical reference tool.
  • Best Practices Manual for Healthcare Providers: OCDV developed and distributed a best practices manual, Medical Providers' Guide to Managing the Care of Domestic Violence Patients Within a Cultural Context.
  • Emergency Shelter: The Human Resources Administration reports a total of 2,081 domestic violence emergency shelter beds citywide, a 35% increase since 2002.
  • Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP): RAPP is a comprehensive, school-based teen relationship abuse program that focuses on prevention, intervention, professional development, community outreach and parent education.
  • Administration for Children's Services (ACS) Domestic Violence Screening and Assessment Tools and Training: ACS has enhanced the domestic violence screening and assessment tools for child protective staff and developed and implemented updated domestic violence training programs for new and experienced staff.
  • Elder Abuse Initiatives: To address domestic violence among the elderly, the Department for the Aging contracts with community-based organizations to provide elder abuse prevention and intervention services at community centers throughout the City.

This material includes information obtained or adapted from:

  • NYC Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence web site

Community Coordination

Systems and Services Making a Difference

New York State, like the rest of the country, has seen a progressive movement toward community coordination around domestic violence in recent years, acknowledging that systems communicating and working together are in a better position to respond to domestic violence. Through enhanced coordination, communities have seen fewer cases fall through the cracks and more systems examine their policies and programs for their effect on victim safety.

Almost every county in New York has a local domestic violence task force or coalition, and beyond that, many formal and informal collaborative relationships have been forged in communities in an effort to enhance the local response to domestic violence. Whether it be a domestic violence program advocate housed in a police department, an interdisciplinary group working to develop a domestic violence policy for one of its local systems, a task force working through case scenarios to identify and resolve systems problems, or cross training between law enforcement officers and prosecutors, community coordination has become an invaluable tool communities use to address domestic violence on the local level.

In 1998, New York State released the NYS Model Domestic Violence Policy for Counties, in accordance with §575 of the NYS Executive Law as amended by Chapter 396 of the Laws of 1994. The model introduced the four primary goals of (1) Victim Safety and Self-determination; (2) Abuser Accountability; (3) Systems' Responsibility; and (4) Promoting a Coordinated Community Response Grounded in the Principles of Zero Tolerance. The model outlined specific ways communities could work toward achieving those goals, and gave recommendations for various community systems. Since its release, the model has become a tool that many New York State communities use to guide their community coordination efforts and to gauge their local response to domestic violence.

Over the past few years, community coordination efforts have consistently moved beyond criminal justice systems, which had been the traditional focus since the beginning of such efforts. Communities have been connecting with more non-criminal justice systems and drawing members of their local community into their efforts, recognizing that domestic violence is a problem that requires a societal solution, not just a criminal justice one.

Communities have also used their community coordination efforts to address prevention. With projects like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA), communities have put resources into not only improving their response to domestic violence, but to looking at how they might prevent domestic violence from happening in the first place.

As this publication has detailed, New York State has made tremendous strides in the movement to end domestic violence in recent years. We have seen an improved criminal justice response, enhanced service delivery for victims, an infusion of State and federal funding, the creation and adoption of groundbreaking legislation and mass public education and prevention activities. Although all of these individual actions have enhanced the State's response to domestic violence, the real change can be seen when those systems join together to work toward the common goal of ending domestic violence in New York. We have seen that collaboration on the State level as well as locally and although we have made impressive progress, all New Yorkers need to continue to work together and increase those efforts so that we can further protect victims of domestic violence and hold offenders accountable. Ending domestic violence in New York State is not the job of any one person, agency or system.

It will take our combined efforts, creative responses and continual resourcefulness to continue what we have begun and realize our vision of making New York a state free of domestic violence.

Appendices
The following appendices can be requested by calling OPDV at 518-457-5800.
  • Appendix A: List of NYS Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Programs
  • Appendix B: List of NYS Sexual Assault Examiner (SAE) Providers

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