Fighting domestic abuse against Latinas

Out of a secret location in Corona, the Violence Intervention Program, Inc. (VIP) fights domestic abuse and provides victims with ways to get out of their difficult situations.

Since October 2009, VIP, a nationally recognized Latina organization dedicated to ending domestic violence, has counseled more than 260 women and children. According to the NYPD, in 2009 there were over 25,000 reported cases of domestic violence throughout the city and almost 6,000 of them were in Queens.

“Since coming to the organization I have gone to receive assistance through other programs, and I feel a sense of security,” said a 44-year-old female, who received help through VIP. “I feel as if I can speak out about what I’ve gone through.”

VIP started in Manhattan in 1984. Since then, the program has continued to help abused women through its other locations in the Bronx and Queens.

The Queens location in Corona was opened in 2005 to support the underserved area. Many abused women find that at the Corona center, there is no language barrier because it is a bicultural, bilingual center. This location specializes in serving Spanish-speaking immigrant women who many times feel as though they have limited options because they do not speak English.

The center offers one-on-one and group counseling, youth counseling, crisis intervention counseling, safety planning, assistance in securing shelter space advocacy, accompaniment, help with immigration, and legal referrals. VIP also offers immediate assistance through its bilingual domestic violence hotline, which responds to approximately 10,000 calls each year.

Michelle Ronaghi, program coordinator for VIP, said that many domestic violence victims don’t know about the monetary assistance they can get from organizations like the Crime Victims Board. The board can help domestic violence victims get up to $500 per family member to help them get back on their feet.

“If you decided to leave your house and left all your belongings, you can get the money from the program as long as you provide the right documents,” Ronaghi said. “It can be the difference of you getting clothes on your back.”

To get counseling from the Violence Intervention Program, call 1-800-664-5880.

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