Abuse cases on rise, more unreported

Jose Peralta

October 14, 2010

Queens Courier

by Pete Davis 

October 13, 2010 

Nineteen family-related homicides and 6,500 arrests in Queens alone last year. More than 250,000 police responses and 140,000 calls to a city hotline.

These are only some of the startling statistics related to domestic violence, an everyday occurrence for far too many people living throughout the city. 

During the past few years, the city and Queens have responded to more domestic violence calls with more arrests taking place. 

In 2007, police responded to approximately 230,000 domestic violence incidents and approximately 235,000 in 2008. The roughly 15,000 increase from 2008 to 2009 may be attributed to factors beyond just more incidents taking place. 

“I think more people are less anxious about reporting,” said Scott Kessler, Queens Assistant District Attorney, who is the Bureau Chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau. “I think they realize that there is help out there, and I think there has been a big push in terms of having people report to the police.” 

Even with the increase in police responses, some believe that the current statistics don’t adequately represent how many domestic violence incidents actually take place. 

“I believe that the stats are way too low to what’s actually occurring,” said Queens State Senator Jose Peralta, who has made combating domestic violence one of his key issues both in the Assembly and in the State Senate. “These stats are not reported because of fear, because of fear embarrassment of what people will say.” 

Peralta said he believes this is especially true for many of the constituents he represents in northwest Queens. 

“It becomes a real issue especially in the immigrant communities where culture teaches people to keep the family together and not to separate the family,” Peralta said. “The victim believes he will repent and gives him numerous chances.”

Cathy Moore, the Chairperson of the Queens Borough President’s Taskforce on Domestic Violence, said that the average woman tries a minimum of seven times to leave a domestic violence situation. 

“Some of them try a whole lot more, but they never quite get out the door,” Moore said. 

In July of 2008, the city opened a Family Justice Center in Queens, and during the first 18 months the center was opened, it served 5,349 new clients seeking domestic violence services and 1,184 children were supervised in the center’s children’s room, Margaret’s Place, according to statistics from the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. The center averages nearly 750 client visits each month, which includes first time and repeat clients.