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If You’re a DV Survivor, You’re Not Alone

The FJC Wants CSI to Know About Domestic Violence

By: Victoria Ifatusin

The New York City Family Justice Center is located on Staten Island in St.George. Credit: Alison Francis-Lord

October may be a while from now, but that doesn’t mean domestic violence shouldn’t be acknowledged now.

“In the United States, one in four women experience abuse during their lifetime,” said Alison Francis-Lord, the Executive Director for the NYC Family Justice Center.

“An estimated one in 10 young adults in a dating relationship report experiencing physical dating violence in the past year, and that number is double for LGBTQ-identified youth and triple for pregnant or parenting teens.”

The New York City Family Justice Center is known for coordinating the delivery of services to victims of intimate partner violence, sex trafficking and elder abuse, and manages the centers on-site partners, services providers and programs.

The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence – which operates the FJC – “formulates policies and programs, coordinates the citywide delivery of domestic violence services and works with diverse communities and community leavers to increase awareness of domestic violence,” said Francis-Lord.

It works hand-in-hand with government and nonprofit agencies that provide assistance to domestic violence survivors.

“The FJCs are co‐located multidisciplinary domestic violence service centers that provide vital social service, civil legal and criminal justice assistance for survivors of intimate partner violence and their children under one roof,” said Francis-Lord.

She also described the importance of children – some whose parents are college students –becoming either perpetrators or victims of domestic violence.

This is usually determined if whether or not they grew up in a home where there was domestic violence.  

The statistics consequently show the negative effect of abuse and trauma experienced by these survivors. Francis-Lord and the FJC thus “want to connect with all communities in Staten Island to share services, resources and to provide training and support to organizations.”  

So then, what should college students know about domestic violence, the resources available and what to do when they find themselves in such a situation?  

Francis-Lord firmly stated, “you are not alone.”

Those who experience domestic violence have many alternatives depending on their situation and thus, reaching out for help is the first step.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

The NYC Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-621-HOPE (4673), can be contacted and is available 24 hours-a-day for instant safety planning and shelter assistance.

The Family Justice Center is open from Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., for the creation of a plan for proper safety and to discuss options with a case manager. Appointments are not necessary.

The Family Justice Center provides many services all at one location.

They have case managers that can help plan safety guidelines and provide advice and referrals for public benefits, housing, shelter and other needs.

There are also counselors, therapists and psychiatrists that can help support adults and children dealing with the emotional and psychological impact of intimate partner violence.

Economic empowerment services are available to help with budgeting, credit repair, other financial issues and referrals to job training and educational programs.

Lawyers there can advise and represent people in orders of protection, child support, custody, visitation, divorce, immigration matters, and can give referrals for other legal issues.

The NYC Sheriff’s Office is available to assist with serving civil court documents and connected services.

Finally, child care is also available whilst receiving services at the Family Justice Center.

Because the NYC Family Justice Center on Staten Island is co-located with other services like the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office, New York Police Department, and Domestic Violence Prevention Officers, these resources are also available to meet with people looking to engage the criminal justice system.

Francis-Lord also explained the role of colleges and how they “can provide safe spaces for students to share their experiences of abuse and offer resources for students to connect with the supports they need.”

She advises the use of “many trainings offered to raise awareness around intimate partner violence and health relationships,” including the OCDV’s Policy and Training Institute and Healthy Relationships Training Academy, which are available to provide trainings to college campuses.

The FJC also has a growing partnership with “Luv on a Leash” – a therapy dog program – that has two therapy dog teams to visit the FJC twice a week to provide support to survivors and their children.

They are currently working with Richmond County Family Court to implement a new program in which survivors have the ability to petition for an order of protection with one of the FJC’s advocates and remotely appear via Skype from the FJC for their first court appearance, according to Francis-Lord.

Francis-Lord also talked about the new domestic violence services portal, NYCHOPE, a hub that provides information, education, and resources about domestic violence.

It simultaneously brings in community-based resources and services that survivors can access in one location from any computer, smartphone, tablet, or other device with internet access.

Both Francis-Lord and the FJC welcomes people of all ages, sexual orientations and gender identities, regardless of what language you speak, your immigration status or your income.

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