Push to Sign Domestic Violence Reporting Bill Into Law
(New City, NY) — Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester), Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-New City), and advocates gathered at the Center For Safety & Change on Wednesday to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to make combating domestic violence a top priority by signing a bill (S.1243-B/A.4467-A) into law, which will make reporting abuse easier.
The bill which is sponsored by Carlucci and Zebrowski will allow survivors to report abuse to any law enforcement agency in New York State regardless of where it happened. Under current law, survivors can only report an instance of domestic violence to police who have jurisdiction.
Senator David Carlucci said, “We need the Governor to take immediate action and sign this bill into law to protect women, children, and our police. Domestic violence is a public health emergency and right now, our outdated laws are not protecting the victim, but actually making it more difficult for a survivor to come forward. This bill will lead to increased reporting, allow survivors to get to safety, and hopefully prevent future tragedies. I thank the Center For Safety Change for their hard work day in and day out to help victims of domestic violence stay safe and for connecting Angela with my office to put her advocacy work into policy.”
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski said, “We should be doing everything in our power to make it easier for domestic violence victims to come forward, not more difficult. This legislation will lead to a direct increase in reporting of domestic violence incidents and will allow victims to promptly leave the area where their abuser is located and get to safety. I thank advocate Angela Rivera for bringing this egregious loophole to our attention and working together with Senator Carlucci and I to get this bill passed. I am hopeful that the Governor will sign this imperative piece of legislation into law.”
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) said, “As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Children and Families and a co-sponsor of this legislation, a top priority is advancing public health and safety, especially the safety of women and children, by reducing domestic and gender-based violence, strengthening protections for survivors, empowering those seeking to escape and overcome domestic violence, and ensuring public policy in New York State reinforces each of these goals. Today, I call on Governor Cuomo to support victims of domestic violence and sign this legislation into law.”
Domestic Violence Survivor Angela Rivera said, “Governor Cuomo I urge you to sign this bill in to law. This would allow thousands of victims of domestic violence whose reports go unreported to now be reported. This would change the face of domestic violence for thousands of victims.”
Center For Safety & Change’s Chief Program Officer Amy Siniscalchi said, “I want to thank Angela for her bravery and tenacity in bringing this forward. I also want to thank Senator Carlucci, Assemblyman Zebrowski, and Assemblywoman Jaffee. It was about a year ago we contacted our local legislators to meet with our Resource Council, which is our survivor activists, like Angela. This bill will help countless victims report abuse safely and start documenting a pattern of abuse. With this police report, victims can file for compensation to get the independence they need from their abusive partner.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men are victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. According to a May 2017 report by the U.S. Justice Department, 44 percent of domestic violence incidents went unreported to police from 2006 to 2015. One reason victims do not report is due to fear of retaliation.
This is why it was important to Carlucci, Zebrowski, and Jaffee to work with survivors through the Center For Safety & Change and pass meaningful legislation to help reduce these sobering statistics and increase domestic violence reporting.
This bill was inspired by domestic violence survivor, Angela Rivera whose relative had fallen victim to dating violence. When Rivera tried to help her report the crime to the police in Rockland County, they were turned away because the assault happened in Queens.
Domestic Violence advocates say this all too often a common occurrence, and there is only a small window of time that a victim feels comfortable reporting the crime. If victims are turned away due to jurisdiction, advocates say it could lead them to never report the crime. Additionally, survivors may leave the area where an attack happens to get away from the abuser, finding safety with friends or family or at a shelter. However, under current law, a survivor has to return to a potentially unsafe area, putting their life in jeopardy and making them more fearful to report.
Carlucci and Zebrowski’s bill passed the full legislature in June. Now the Governor has until December 31st to sign it into law.