An epidemic of domestic violence

Charles Lavine

Each year, there are 450,000 reports of domestic violence in New York State. In 2012, that translated into a total of 304,239 orders of protection of which 218,570 were recorded in the Unified Court System’s Domestic Violence Registry.

One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and in the United States, each day, three women are murdered by their intimate partner. 

The statistics are startling. These faceless women, borne out in statistics, are not just numbers; they are wives, mothers, daughters, and friends. 

The impact of domestic violence is far reaching with physical, psychological and emotional consequences that result in suffering for victims long after the abuse has ended. Victims of domestic violence can find themselves facing housing and employment discrimination, financial devastation, child care issues and a lack of treatment options for their physical and emotional well-being.

The personal and private nature of domestic violence can make it especially frightening and dangerous to its victims. In too many cases, women seek assistance only after significant damage has been done and they have no other options. 

In this country alone each day, three voices are silenced forever out of fear or helplessness. The effect on the victims and their children is harrowing.

I have worked with my colleagues in the Assembly to establish laws that protect victims of domestic violence and provide them with the support services they need to be empowered. The bills we have passed in the Assembly are common sense measures to protect victims of domestic violence while reflecting advancements made in digital technology that can save lives.

The Assembly’s legislative package prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm if he or she has been convicted of certain family offenses. There is legislation that allows victims to recover non-economic damage from any and all defendants found liable for failure to obey or enforce domestic violence orders of protection or temporary orders of protection. 

A bill I sponsored and argued for on the floor of the Assembly Chamber requires hospitals to establish procedures for suspected or confirmed cases of domestic violence that includes ongoing training programs for staff and to designate a hospital staff member to coordinate services to victims. While I am very pleased that my bill had wide bipartisan support and that it passed overwhelmingly, it did not pass unanimously. 

Other provisions of the legislative package allows the unauthorized tracking of an individual with a GPS or other device to be included in the crime of stalking in the fourth degree; it requires wireless companies to allow victims of domestic violence to opt out of shared family plans without incurring penalties; requires police to promptly translate domestic violence incident reports into English and to provide notification of victims’ rights into their native language. 

It builds on legislation passed earlier this year by the Assembly that prohibits employment discrimination against domestic violence victims and requires the interpretation of orders of protection in court proceedings where an interpreter has already been appointed. 

The Assembly passed a resolution declaring April 29, as Domestic Violence Awareness Day. 

While there is without question still a great deal more to do, most of my colleagues in the Assembly, both Democrats and Republicans, believe that the Assembly’s work thus far is a major step in the right direction.

About the author

Charles Lavine

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