Commissioner of Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Calls Outreach Crucial

Commissioner of Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Calls Outreach Crucial

MOCDV Commissioner Rosemonde Pierre-Louis inside the Queens Family Justice Center in Kew Gardens. Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza

MOCDV Commissioner Rosemonde Pierre-Louis inside the Queens Family Justice Center in Kew Gardens.
Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza

The other side of sports, the seedy underbelly pockmarked with athletes behaving badly, dominated the narrative of the kickoff of the National Football League’s 2014 season.

Because of the actions of gridiron stars such as Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, domestic violence suddenly was thrust into the national spotlight, controlling the conversation on sports radio stations from Astoria to Albuquerque.

While many saw an opportunity to share an opinion, Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, saw a teachable moment.

“It was an incredible year of sustained conversation on a topic,” Pierre-Louis said. “This was unprecedented dialog about domestic violence.”

As new information leaked seemingly every day, Pierre-Louis recalled thinking, ‘There are real victims watching this.’

“My focus immediately centered on getting information about resources out to victims,” she noted.

Pierre-Louis outlined some of those resources for The Forum last Thursday at the Queens Family Justice Center in Kew Gardens. She talked about being an UpStander, someone who assists and intervenes when others are being harassed, rather than a passive bystander.

“Everyone can play a role—even something as simple as knowing the resources in the community,” Pierre-Louis said. “The key continues to be the outreach aspect of our work.”

MOCDV outreach efforts include working with community boards, precinct community councils, city councilmembers. Pierre-Louis also said that mobilizing staff to visit subway stations, beauty salons, bodegas and other small businesses has been critical to getting information to the neighborhoods on which the identity of the city is forged.

“We go where people congregate,” the commissioner said. “If it helps one person come forward, that, to me, is really encouraging.”

Pierre-Louis went on to highlight new initiatives, such as MOCDV’s work with the city Housing Authority in bringing Domestic Violence Response Teams to public housing developments, including the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City.

Beginning last November, MOCDV deployed NYCHA DVRT staff to conduct extensive grassroots outreach throughout 15 targeted developments and surrounding communities, providing information about how to obtain domestic violence services, and directly connect residents to the dedicated NYCHA DVRT specialists in MOCDV’s Family Justice Centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens (Staten Island’s center will open this year.)

Located in and operated by MOCDV, the centers provide comprehensive services to victims of intimate partner violence, elder abuse, and sex trafficking in 25 languages with additional telephonic interpretation in over 150 languages.

Pierre-Louis called the native tongue element “extremely important.” In Queens, 75 percent of MOCDV clients are foreign born. The borough’s Family Justice Center staff speaks 14 different languages.

“It’s all about client interaction,” Pierre-Louis noted. “Language barriers may deter victims from coming forward.”

According to Pierre-Louis, the Family Justice Centers recorded 55,000 visits in 2014—up from 43,000 in 2013.

The commissioner has ties to Queens. Though she was born in Cleveland, Ohio, Pierre-Louis moved to Parkway Village in Kew Gardens Hills when she was 5 years old. An attorney by trade, she began her law career in 1991 at Queens Legal Services on Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica.

Pierre-Louis called her time as MOCDV chief “the best professional experience of my life,” in part because she feels she can affect tangible change.

“I feel humbled and privileged to have this opportunity and to be in this administration,” she said. “It’s incredible to be part of an agency where we can not only touch people, but partner with other agencies to make it happen.”



By Michael V. Cusenza


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