By Rebecca Henely
Flanked by his fellow officials, advocates and clergymen from a wide variety of faiths, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) donated $50,000 to fighting domestic violence in Queens last Thursday.
“We have a silent killer we need to stop and eradicate,” Peralta said.
The money, $25,000 of which went to the Queens district attorney’s Queens Family Justice Center and $25,000 of which went to domestic violence advocacy group Safe Horizon Inc., was one piece of a three-pronged initiative to fight abuse for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. Along with the money, Peralta’s office will run an educational campaign, with posters from Safe Horizon and literature available in English and Spanish, with more languages to come on how to get help against domestic violence.
“We want to be sure everyone has this literature who needs it,” Peralta said.
He said he will also be holding a breakfast this week with various religious leaders in the area to discuss the effect of domestic violence on local communities and congregations to be followed by sermons this weekend from the clergy on how their congregations can prevent this destructive behavior.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Brother Edward Shields of St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst, one of many clergymen participating in the event.
Peralta’s initiative was praised by state Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-Jackson Heights), especially the education component.
“It is time to break the cycle,” DenDekker said.
Sil Lai Abrams, an author and speaker who was in an abusive relationship for five years, said Safe Horizon helped her get a permanent order of protection against her former partner.
“It’s an organization that really, truly does change people’s lives,” Abrams said.
District Attorney Richard Brown said Peralta’s funding would help child victims of domestic violence.
“The center has proven to be successful in aiding child victims and the funding provided today will ensure that we will be able to provide the necessary staffing to help provide justice for these youngsters,” Brown said.
Peralta said he was working to pass a package of 12 bills in the Senate aimed at preventing domestic violence. He also encouraged women to get help, even if they think they cannot because of immigration status, a desire not to separate the family, financial reasons or a belief that the abuse is their fault.
In addition, he said men should work to stop the cycle of violence.
“Men have to get involved,” Peralta said. “Men have to understand that women are their partners, they are not property.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.