Workshop Promotes Domestic Violence Awareness
By M. Frith
An anti-domestic violence workshop was held last Friday evening at the St. Jude School on Canarsie Road to offer participants information on the many facets of domestic violence. The event, sponsored by the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and Informed Voices Civic Association, follows the announcement of two new initiatives for the city by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
These initiatives, detailed in last week’s Canarsie Courier, are a digitized 911 emergency system and a citywide ad campaign; both geared toward thwarting domestic violence.
Evelyn Laporte, a senior assistant district attorney, began by pointing out domestic violence’s far reach. She said, "Everyone has either had personal experience with this abuse or knows someone who has, or knows someone who knows someone who has."
The DA additionally pointed out that domestic violence happens "in every ethnic group, religion, and economic sphere." Although most abusers are usually adult males, there has been a rise in the number of females and teenage abusers.
"Domestic violence is about power and control...one person exercises power over another," she said.
There were several key points raised. Domestic abuse comes in two forms, physical and emotional. Laporte was careful to note all the obvious actions that legally constitute abuse, including kicking, punching and slapping. She also specified the more subtle emotional abuse. Among the emotional arsenal of an abuser are attacking the victim’s self-esteem by name calling, withholding economic independence by forbidding the victim to work, and threatening the lives of the victim, children, other family members, and even pets.
The second key point was the need for victims to follow through on the prosecution of abusers. Many victims retract subsequently statements after the initial incident is reported. Some even become hostile with the police and prosecutors in a desperate attempt to keep their abusers out of the penal system. Victims who do not follow through on a case run the risk of a more violent episode in the future.
Laporte emphasized, "Domestic violence is a crime that occurs sporadically and then escalates."
Finally, victims were urged to use the legal system to protect themselves. Family and Criminal courts are available to all victims to gain orders of protection.
The district attorney’s office has a domestic violence unit. Tanya Brown, a counselor in the Counseling Services Unit mentioned the office’s willingness to direct victims to the proper channels to provide housing and security. Brown specified Project Safe, an organization that will change victim’s locks at no cost.