BUFFALO (submitted) – Assemblymember Monica P. Wallace, together with the Family Justice Center announced that a package of bills passed this week by the New York State Assembly to empower and provide resources to domestic violence victims.
“Unfortunately, it is difficult for a woman to marshal the courage to leave her abuser,” said Ms. Wallace. “Victims often return to their abuser several times before summoning the courage to leave for good. The abuse leaves victims feeling ashamed, defeated, and self-loathing. Further, victims are often financially dependent on their abusers. Ninety-eight percent of domestic violence cases involve some form of financial abuse, and domestic abuse is the third leading cause of homelessness among families. I am proud to work with my Assembly colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand up for victims of domestic violence, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”
The legislation passed by the Assembly this week included:
- A.1056 and A.946-A – Allowing victims of domestic violence to be released from a telephone, cable or broadband contract, as well as a shared or family wireless contract, without incurring cancellation fees.
- A.4014-A — Requiring hospitals to establish procedures regarding domestic violence and ongoing training programs for staff, and to designate a hospital staff member to coordinate services for victims.
- A.5921 — Ensures victims of domestic violence understand their legal rights and access to services during criminal and family court proceedings by simplifying the language in court documents.
- A.1516 — Increases the statute of limitations in actions for injuries occurring as a result of domestic violence in civil court proceedings from one to two years.
- A.1481-A — Prevents employers from discriminating against employees on the basis that they are victims of domestic violence and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace for employees to attend court appearances and seek critical services such as counseling or medical treatment related to their abuse.
Ms. Wallace also introduced new legislation this week that would amend the state education law to provide dating violence education and establish uniform policies for dating violence in school districts across the state. Statistics show that one in three teenagers has experienced dating violence. Wallace hopes her bill will curb domestic violence incidents by educating young adults what they should look for that might indicate of an abusive relationship.
“Dating violence crosses all racial, economic, and social lines,” added Ms. Wallace. “Teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand what choices they have, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with respect.”
She held Friday’s announcement with the Family Justice Center Executive Director Mary Travers Murphy. The Family Justice Center’s main office is in downtown Buffalo, with satellite locations in Amherst and Orchard Park. The mission of the Family Justice Center is to provide comprehensive client services to address offender accountability, safety, healing, and prevention to enable its clients and their children to break the cycle and live free from domestic violence. To that end, the staff and attorneys at Family Justice Center maintain zero tolerance for domestic violence and absolute confidentiality for its clients.
“The Family Justice Center caters to anything and everything someone needs to escape an abusive relationship,” said Ms. Travers Murphy. “Our unique model brings together, in one place, advocates, attorneys, law enforcement, forensic medical unit nurses, SPCA Paws for Love Therapy Dogs, the ability to Skype with Family Court for emergency orders of protection, safety planning, counseling. You name it we provide it! And every day our FJC team has the great honor of watching clients walk out our doors headed for hope, healing and safe havens.”
For assistance, licensed professionals at the Family Justice Center can be reached at (716) 558-7233.