Although victims of domestic violence need services after the fact, many experts say that it’s just as important to have programs that try to prevent these incidents from even occurring.
Yolanda Jimenez, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV), explained that one of the focuses of OCDV is prevention.
Recently, OCDV partnered with Verizon Wireless for a campaign to let people know they have a right to a healthy relationship. Posters and palm cards were placed in local businesses so that members of the community could see them during their daily activities.
“Reducing domestic violence begins with each and everyone one of us recognizing what an unhealthy relationship is and know where to get help,” Jimenez said. “By partnering with local businesses we are making sure that this message is delivered to every neighborhood in New York City. We are asking all businesses to join in this effort to help save lives.”
It also sought to let the community know some of the warning signs that they may be in a potentially abusive situation and what they could do about it.
“Awareness prevention is something that…has to be a constant for us,” Jimenez said. “We want to focus and place the same kind of energy and commitment to preventing violence in the first place as we do to providing services.”
Jimenez added that she sees providing services as a way to prevent returning violence.
“I think that, in terms of community education, preventative education is always really important, said Jessica Spector, the staff attorney of the Domestic Violence Project at the Urban Justice Center.
Spector said that, within the court system, it is critical to educate judges about the diversity of domestic violence victims. She said there has always been progress made in terms of having interpreters and the courts more accessible to victims.
However, Spector said that although “there’s good progress being made on that front…we can’t rest on that.” She said more education is needed in order to address other barriers, such as people not thinking what happened to them was domestic violence. Education can also help address cultural stigmas, Spector said.
Other individuals who work with domestic violence victims also believe further education is a key component to preventing incidents from happening.
“I definitely think that there’s definitely been more education but there needs to be a lot more,” said Sheryl Leah Zoldan, Safe Horizon Director of Queens Criminal and Supreme Court Programs. “There’s always more that needs to be done.”
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.