BY BROOKE SMITH
In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Councilman Rory I. Lancman joined Queens College on Thursday for a ceremony featuring survivors, students and other elected officials.
The event was part of the Shine the Light on Domestic Violence Initiative, which provides victims with resources to help them leave their abusers.
The “initiative builds on the important work we’re doing in city government to eliminate the stigma associated with being a domestic violence victim and to give victims the support they need to rebuild their lives on their own terms,” said Lancman.
Featured were the participants of Queens College Women and Work program, a 15-week course that empowers participants to recover from domestic violence. The program has helped transform the lives of more than 3,000 women.
Along with these efforts to dismantle the fear that make victims stay with their abusers, Lancman has also worked with the City Council to increase funding for domestic violence services by 11 percent this year. Approximately $6.6 million have been allocated for community-based organizations that provide legal representation, workshops, referrals and counseling to victims and survivors.
St. John’s University’s Project CONNECT, which provides trauma-informed therapy to families that have experienced violence, and the Korean American Family Service Center each received $5,000 grants; the Shalom task force for domestic violence victims also received $10,000.
Even the role of the court systems in domestic violence was addressed in a joint oversight hearing held by Lancman with the Committees on Women’s Issues and General Welfare. The hearing highlighted the city’s Family Justice Centers where victims can meet with a prosecutor, speak with a trained counselor and apply for housing and financial assistance. They also explored the effectiveness of Integrated Domestic Violence Courts, where one judge oversees all family, matrimonial and criminal disputes for families where domestic violence is an underlying issue.
Lancman is co-sponsoring a package of bills that is expected to increase reporting on domestic violence and intimate partner violence, the number one under-reported crime in the U.S. This will ensure the city has the necessary data to target resources and end domestic violence.