City To Expand Domestic Violence Outreach Program
Come this fall, the city plans to open a new "Family Justice Center" for people who are trying to leave a dangerous situation and rebuild their lives. NY1's Lily Jamali filed the following report.
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You could call them a "one-stop haven" for victims of domestic violence. Already open in Brooklyn and Queens, Family Justice Centers provide critical services to people trying to leave violent situations behind.
"Everything can be found in one place or if not everything. As many things as possible with a case manager to coordinate all the things families need to escape violence," said Sanctuary for Families Co-director Julie Dinnerstein.
Those needs include public housing and assistance, counseling and in a city as diverse as New York, language classes and immigration help with translators on hand in person or on the phone.
There's also a play room where kids can stay while a parent gets help.
In Queens, the center's volume has grown steadily in the year since it opened. This fall, the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence will open its next center in the Bronx in the same Concourse Village building where the District Attorney's offices are located.
"It makes perfect sense to have a similar program in the Bronx which if you look at the number of Domestic Incident Reports has a very large number of DIR. There's clearly a need in the Bronx," said Queens Family Justice Center Executive Director Alexandra Patino.
Last year, the Bronx had the highest number of domestic violence crimes of any borough. A community assessment showed an area along the Grand Concourse, from Concourse Village to the Bronx Zoo -- an area with large numbers of recent immigrants -- was a focal point.
A total of 20 percent of the borough's family-related homicides occurred in the area, though only six percent of Bronx residents live there.
"The Bronx has pockets of immigrant communities that perhaps traditionally don't access a lot of government services," said Yolanda Jiminez of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence.
Advocates say victims often stay in violent relationships because they're worried they won't be able to survive economically if they leave. Many also avoid seeking help because they've entered the country illegally.
"Immigration status, language and culture should not be a barrier to services," said Jimenez.
For more information, residents can call the city's domestic violence hotline at 1-800-621-HOPE.