For Rego Park resident Dolores Maddis, domestic violence hit close to home when her niece, Erika Delia, was killed as a result. Now, she is speaking out for legislation that she feels could help protect others.
Delia, who lived on Long Island at the time, was killed in April of 2007 by her ex-boyfriend. Although she had an order of protection, Delia’s older sister, GinaMarie Nettuno, said that he was still always there.
The day of the killing, Delia had gone back to the apartment she used to share with her ex-boyfriend. Maddis said that the family believes he lured Delia there with the promise of giving her money he owed her.
“I was speechless,” Maddis said of hearing the news of Delia’s death. “How could it happen? If you knew this girl, this young woman, she was so vivacious, so full of life, so giving, so kind, so trusting, so [full] of positive things. It was a shock.”
Maddis said Delia’s death made her very angry. She described it as being “something that was bigger than family.” She said that if something like this could happen to her niece, it could happen to anyone.
“I couldn’t cry,” Maddis said. “I made up my mind that I [have to] do something about it – not only to avenge Erika, but I am fortunate enough to have more than 10 nieces and they have young children in their lives.”
Nettuno said she still takes things day-by-day and that it’s been hard. The family has started a memorial scholarship in Delia’s name.
Shortly after Delia’s death, Maddis began using her contacts as an activist to try to make a difference in the area of domestic violence. She has been supporting an Assembly bill in her niece’s name that would require electronic monitoring devices to be worn by people who have an order of protection against them.
“We need to take this step,” Nettuno said.
Because Delia’s ex-boyfriend had followed her around even after the order of protection had been issued, Maddis said she thinks that, had this bill been in place, the police would have intervened sooner. Nettuno also feels that a GPS tracking system would have helped authorities realize how much Delia was being followed.
“In her memory I just wanted to get it [passed],” Maddis said.
There is a lesson that Nettuno hopes others learn from what happened to her sister.
“There are other options and other places to go. They don’t have to take the abuse and take the threats,” she said. “They should be able to feel safe in their own home and at work.”
Part 3 of our series spotlighted sources of help for victims of domestic violence.
Part 2 of our series delves deeper into the issue of domestic violence, including the effect on children, male victims, and what is being done to help victims.
Part 1 of our series focuses on the introduction of the “disease,” that is domestic violence.