Domestic Violence Chronically Underreported

By Assemblyman Will Barclay
News of tragedy struck again this month when State Police investigated a case in which a woman was stabbed and later died  in Cazenovia. Her alleged killer is a man with whom she was living.

According to news reports, their two young boys were home during the alleged attack.

Police charged the suspect with murder, assault, and criminal possession of a weapon.

Other details are under investigation.

Tragically, this scenario is too familiar.

A third of all female homicide victims are killed by their domestic partner, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. In New York State in 2012, that statistic is even higher; it’s estimated that 58% of all female homicide victims age 16 and older were killed by an intimate partner.

Domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes.

Experts say that ¼ of all women will experience domestic violence at some point during their lifetime.

Many suffer from physical abuse but an intimate partner may also try to: gain power or control by isolating victims from family and friends; take total control over finances or not allow his or her partner to have a job; and/or be verbally abusive, intimidating or threatening.

All of these are considered forms of domestic violence.

Many people who experience domestic violence are often sexually assaulted or raped.

There is a common misconception that because people are involved intimately, that they cannot be raped by their partner. This is not true. But because of the complex nature of the relationship, people are often hesitant to pursue legal action.

Nevertheless, rape should be reported to the authorities under any circumstances.

A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner performs the exam and collects evidence that could lead to prosecution.

Rape victims are encouraged not to shower or bathe until after the exam. If rape has occurred, victims are encouraged to go immediately to a hospital to be examined or call 911.

Experts recommend talking to a trained counselor if you or someone you care for is in danger.

They can offer advice on the best plan to follow, specific to the situation. First and foremost is safety and survival. If the situation cannot be resolved peacefully, experts recommend developing a safety plan. There are resources available on how to develop one that may involve relatives, neighbors, friends or a shelter.

Men can also be victims of domestic violence and abuse. Three percent of male homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner.

While in many cases, domestic violence must be addressed on a case by case basis and through public awareness, our laws can always be improved to better protect victims of domestic violence.

I am advocating for the passage of Brittany’s Law.

This would create a public registry of violent, felony offenders. Parolees would be required to submit their information to the registry upon release from prison.

Brittany’s Law is named after Brittany Passalacqua, a 12-year-old girl who was murdered in 2009 in Geneva, NY. Brittany and her mother, Helen Buchel, were killed by a parolee whose criminal history included a conviction for assaulting his infant daughter.

Buchel was tragically unaware of Brown’s history of violence before becoming intimately involved with Brown.

Brittany’s Law (A08916) passed the Senate this year but did not come to the Assembly floor for a vote.

This type of law has the potential to save lives and inform people in advance if someone they are dealing with has a violent past.

Thankfully, there are resources available.

In our area, we are fortunate to have excellent agencies in place that help victims of domestic violence and abuse.

Vera House in Onondaga County manages a 24-hour crisis support hotline for people who may be in danger, need advice or access to resources. That number is (315) 468-3260.

Oswego County residents may call the county’s abuse and assault hotline at (315) 342-1600.

Jefferson County residents may call the Victim Assistance Center’s 24-hour hotline at (315) 782-1855.

For emergency help, dial 911 or call the New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906.

To read personal stories and more details about how to report a rape or more about what’s involved in a rape exam or to develop a safety plan, read “Domestic Violence, Finding Safety and Support” available at http://www.opdv.state.ny.us/help/fss/fss.pdf

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence tries to raise awareness about domestic violence.

They provide information and often assist people with “the system” concerning police, courts, or departments of social services.

Their website provides information and resources for those who seek help which can be found at www.opdv.state.ny.us or reached 1-866-704-2503.

If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.