For many, October 1st signifies the first day that it is acceptable to decorate for Halloween, drink pumpkin spice lattes, and enjoy the cool sweater weather of fall. However, for agencies like Cattaraugus Community Action and ACCORD, October 1st signifies the first day of something else – National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This awareness is vital to our communities.
Awareness about domestic violence may include recognizing that the need for services for domestic violence victims is rising, yet there are unfortunately times when needs cannot be met not being met due to budgetary restraints or cuts. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), 74,823 domestic violence victims were served in the same day in 2018, higher than the 72,245 reported in 2017. Whether these reports are due to a rise in domestic violence or individuals becoming more comfortable coming forward, it’s still important to note that the need for services is rising.
Awareness may also include recognizing that domestic violence and abuse can take many forms, including but not limited to: physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse. Financial abuse is a lesser known concept, yet according to the NNEDV, it occurs in 99% of domestic violence cases and is a major contributor to victims returning or not leaving their abuser. Financial abuse may include the abuser: withholding/controlling money, assets, and bank accounts, not allowing the victim to work, and/or stealing from the victim. In August of this year, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to broaden the definition of the crime of domestic violence to include forms of economic abuse such as identity theft, grand larceny and coercion.
For the past 4 years New York State has had the highest demand for domestic violence services, so it is important that we recognize the many different forms and ensure that victims have access to resources. Hotlines are available in every county in NYS for individuals to call if they have questions or concerns.
There are free and confidential resources available in the community, no one has to go through this alone. For Allegany County, please contact ACCORD (1-800-593-5322.) For Cattaraugus County, please contact Cattaraugus Community Action (1-888-945-3970.)
Remember Prevention Works!