The Big Issue: As budgets drop, domestic violence on the rise in New York

“Every year it’s been an uphill battle,” said Michelle Jackson, of the Human Services Counsel, of the fight to secure funding that helps domestic violence victims.

As funding has steadily dwindled to help New Yorkers escape domestic violence situations, the number of deaths from abuse has sharply increased in the past three years.

And now, $2.5 million hangs in the balance. Advocates are worried that, as the city puts together next year’s budget, the City Council will not renew funding for groups that help domestic violence victims.
Homicides from domestic violence, classified by the city as “family-related homicides,” increased 19 percent in 2011 from 2010. The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence recorded 92 deaths last year, up from 77 in 2010. And the number of deaths last year is a 48 percent increase from 2009, when the city recorded 62 deaths.

Police also responded to more domestic violence incidents last year — about 258,000 calls, or approximately 700 a day. That’s around 20 more calls per day compared to 2010.

Funding for the city’s Domestic Violence Empowerment program, an umbrella program that funds about 50 groups helping domestic violence survivors, has declined in recent years, said Michelle Jackson of the Human Services Counsel.

“The trend in the last four years has been that as funding has been cut, homicides have increased,” Jackson said.

In fiscal year 2008, the funding was $4 million, she said. Since then, it’s been gradually slashed.
Right now, advocates are struggling to secure $2.5 million for next year before funding expires in June, she said.

What’s causing the uptick?

Although it’s unclear what caused the uptick in domestic violence murders, some say a recession and economic struggles might create more stress inside families, increasing the need for a safe haven.

Alejandra Soto, director of communications for the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, said that their office has also dealt with funding cuts — and that the increase in deaths may not be a direct correlation.

“We don’t know why they went up,” she said of the increase in fatalities. “Nobody knows for sure what drives domestic violence.”

How is the money spent?

The $2.5 million from the city is funneled to a variety of programs supporting people who leave abusers, such as legal help for restraining orders, therapy and finding housing.

“You have to take a holistic approach,” said Michelle Jackson, of the Human Services Counsel. “Legal services to get custody, get support, get away from their abuser, breaking leases — things that people don’t necessarily think of that are vital to severing those ties and starting a new life.”
 

Meanwhile, Nathaniel Fields, senior vice president for Safe Horizon’s domestic violence programs, said they are still reeling after the city cancelled its rent-assistance Advantage program in February, which subsidized victims’ shelter as they transitioned to a new life.  

Victims need a lot of support to escape, he said — they’ve often abandoned their only support systems, pulling children out of schools and communities.     

“If they can’t see a next step, they might not even go into a shelter,” he said.  

A survivor’s story

Alejandrina came to Barrier Free Living in 2009 while   trying to escape an abusive significant other.
  
The group helped her transition from living in a shelter to finding an apartment of her own. They also provided her with counseling and case management, guiding her through getting back on her feet and creating her own life.
   
“I’ve been doing things with my life, different things,” Alejandrina said. “I’ve been taking self-defense classes and teaching Spanish, and I continue with my life with the help of my case manager.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

National

Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…

Arts

Theater: Discouraging 'Poor Behavior'

Theresa Rebeck's latest off-Broadway play, about two couples sparring on a weekend getaway, repeats a few mistakes of her past.

Gossip

Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…

Sex

When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…