Photo Courtesy of Kevin Coughlin/Office of the Governor
“Domestic violence has been a pervasive problem in our society, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation and exposed the limitations of our traditional systems and methods,” said Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor and chairwoman of the State Council on Women and Girls.
By Forum Staff
The needs of survivors vary greatly and there are different tools needed to allow each survivor maximum control over their situation, including: mobile advocacy, flexible funding, and housing choice, according to a report outlining recommendations identified by theCOVID-19 Domestic Violence Task Force, which was presented to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday.
In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, data reported by law enforcement and domestic violence service providers pointed to an increase in domestic violence, with the State Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline recording a 33-percent increase in calls for April 2020 compared to April 2019, and shelter occupancy rates upstate rising to 78 percent in April 2020, compared to 59 percent in April 2019.
“Domestic violence has been a pervasive problem in our society, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation and exposed the limitations of our traditional systems and methods,” said Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor and chairwoman of the State Council on Women and Girls. “Since the uptick in domestic violence incidents during the pandemic, New York has taken aggressive actions to find new and innovative solutions to safely reach domestic violence survivors and provide critical, life-saving services. These recommendations build on our efforts and will help to transform and reimagine the way we provide services by giving survivors of domestic violence choice in their future and control of their decisions.”
According to DeRosa, the recommendations offered by the 27-member task force are ready to be quickly implemented, cutting red tape and prioritizing cultural competency to better meet survivors where they are, give them what they need, and set a foundation for continued innovation.
The task force report outlines 10 recommendations, which Cuomo has accepted in full and is directing the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, along with other sister agencies of the Office of Children and Family Services, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Office of Victim Services, the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Department of Health, to use these recommendations to update and improve domestic violence services in the state.
The recommendations are: Using New Technologies to Reach More Survivors; Providing Flexible Funding to Meet the Diverse Needs of Survivors; Providing More Housing Navigation Services; Removing the Requirement that Domestic Violence Victims File a Police Report in Order to Access Victims of Crime Act Funding; Addressing the Needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Survivors of Gender-Based Violence; Normalizing Domestic Violence Screening During Tele-Health Visits; Coordinating a Program to Promote the Need for Representation of Immigrant Victims; Launching a Public Awareness Campaign to Highlight Financial Abuse; Launching a New Prevention Initiative Specifically Directed at Educating Men About Domestic Violence; and Setting the Stage for Future Progress.
“New York has been working to modernize our systems and the way we deliver services to survivors, and the recommendations made by the task force will help address this alarming spike in domestic violence incidents while building our systems and processes back better than they were before,” Cuomo said.