BY COUNCILWOMAN ELIZABETH CROWLEY
There is a silence that shrouds most incidents of domestic violence – a deadly silence. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we must work together more diligently to give a voice to countless victims and put an end to this silence once and for all.
The prevalence of domestic violence is alarming. In Queens, police responded to 55,993 incidents of domestic violence last year. Each day, the NYPD responds to almost 800 domestic violence incidents across the city, and one in four women nationwide will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives. My council district, which includes the 102nd and 104th precincts, has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the county.
Worst of all, these unacceptable statistics are just the tip of the iceberg.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, incidents of violence within families and romantic relationships are some of the most underreported crimes in the country. Only about one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalking cases against women by their domestic or intimate partners are reported to the police.
Over the last few months, we have seen the evils of domestic violence through high-profile cases in the NFL. But we need to focus this public outrage to tell the stories of every day victims and fight incidents of domestic violence silently growing out of control in our own backyard.
I recently joined Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my colleagues in the City Council for the 14th Annual Brides March to tell the story of Gladys Ricart, who was violently killed at the hands of an ex-boyfriend on her wedding day. Since her tragic death, there have been nearly 1,000 additional domestic violence related homicides in New York City alone.
Telling stories of Gladys and so many other victims of domestic violence is only way we will bring this problem out of the shadows and end the social stigma that keeps victims from speaking out.
On Wednesday, Oct. 15, the New York City Council took part in “Go Purple” Day, which brought together community advocates, city agencies and public officials to help raise awareness about domestic violence and the resources available throughout the city.
The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, headed by Commissioner Rose Pierre-Louis, oversees an array of comprehensive resources available to New Yorkers. The New York City Family Justice Center in Queens (718-575-4500) provides legal, counseling and supportive services for victims of domestic violence. This is the best place for free and confidential access to key city services and the District Attorney’s office.
But for these services to make a meaningful impact, we have to give victims the courage to seek help. Let’s work to “go purple” and raise awareness about domestic violence every day to show victims living in silence that they are not alone.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens) is the co-chair of the NYC Council Women’s Caucus. She represents the neighborhoods of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, and parts of Woodside and Woodhaven.