by Elizabeth Daley
October 14, 2010
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) joined Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Safe Horizon’s CEO Ariel Zwang and Queens clergy last Thursday to announce $50,000 in aid to combat domestic violence throughout the borough.
“I am committed to finding solutions to break the cycle of domestic violence in our community,” Peralta said, as he stood next to two giant checks written out to Queens programs. “While it is true that females are the victims in most instances of abuse, the effects of domestic violence are felt throughout every segment of our society,” he added.
In New York State, approximately 400,000 domestic incidents are reported to police departments each year. A large portion of assaults are committed by intimate partners.
Half of Peralta’s funding allocation will go to Safe Horizon, an organization that supports survivors of domestic violence. The other half will go to the Queens Child Advocacy Center, a facility that brings together many different agencies including the NYPD and the Queens District Attorney’s office in a child-friendly setting to conduct investigative interviews, provide medical evaluation and treatment.
“I am grateful to Senator Peralta for his leadership, his compassion and his commitment in the area of domestic violence,” Brown said. “The senator’s funding will bolster our ability to provide immediate, expert care to victims and their families seeking practical assistance and safety assessments in the Queens Family Justice Center.”
Safe Horizon will use its portion of the funding to maintain services at the Queens Family Justice Center in Kew Gardens. The center provides legal assistance, counseling and support to survivors of domestic violence. It also serves as a waiting area for survivors who must attend criminal court next door. In the past, survivors of domestic violence would often have to sit in court all day next to their attackers. The center allows survivors and their children to pass time on trial days in peace away from their abusers.
Many steps have been taken in the fight against domestic violence. During the course of this year’s legislative session, the state Senate passed 12 bills to address the issue.
The legislation would increase penalties for repeat offenders, prohibit housing and employment discrimination of a survivor based on the violence they may have endured, protect survivors’ identities from being leaked to the public or being found via Freedom of Information Act requests, and make it easier to obtain orders of protection against attackers.
At the press conference, Peralta, Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and Assemblyman Mike DenDecker (D-East Elmhurst) announced a new anti-domestic violence campaign aimed at bringing clergy in the 13th District together to raise awareness about the issue. Peralta will hold a breakfast for religious leaders in his district on Thursday to discuss the devastating effect of violence on communities, families and congregations throughout Queens. He encouraged religious leaders to preach sermons on the subject of domestic violence during the weekend of Oct. 30.
After elected officials discussed the importance of education in combating abuse, clergy of different faiths took the podium to pledge their commitment to Peralta’s initiative. They praised the senator for his efforts and spoke of a brighter future in which violence no longer plagues our society.