September 24, 2019

New York State Announces $400,000 to Enhance Domestic Violence Prevention Programs Serving Rensselaer and Suffolk Counties

New York State Announces $400,000 to Enhance Domestic Violence Prevention Programs Serving Rensselaer and Suffolk Counties
The Retreat in East Hampton and Unity House in Troy Each Receive $200,000 for Two Years from the State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence today announced recipients of its first-ever Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative grants, which are designed to foster development of holistic programs focused on preventing domestic violence among diverse populations and enhance collaborations between domestic violence programs and other service providers. The Retreat, based in Suffolk County, and Unity House of Troy, in Rensselaer County, each will receive $200,000 in funding from the agency for two years.

The state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence received 12 applications for funding in response to a competitive request for proposals the agency issued earlier this summer. The two successful applicants will use the funding to enhance already existing domestic violence prevention programs. The funding runs from Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2021.

Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Deputy Director Shannon Cantiello said, “Throughout Governor Cuomo’s tenure, New York State has taken a multifaceted approach to addressing domestic violence and all of its collateral consequences for victims, survivors and their families. This funding will allow The Retreat and Unity House to expand their reach and make a meaningful difference in their communities.”

The Retreat will expand its Prevention Education program, which offers workshops that aim to interrupt patterns of violence that persist from generation to generation, to reach more adults and children in eastern Suffolk County. The interactive, research-informed workshops teach language, tools and skill-building exercises to help youth stay safe and reduce the chances that they will be victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, cyber abuse, or financial abuse by a controlling partner. The program also will offer prevention education to parents, teachers, social workers and others who have a positive influence in children’s lives.

Unity House will seek to address the intersection of firearm-related violence and intimate partner violence through the creation of the Rensselaer County Response Team, a group of criminal justice and victim services professionals who will educate the community about connection between violence and access to firearms; provide training and information to court personnel; and enhanced safety planning for victims. This work will build upon the agency’s Risk Reduction Enhanced Response program, through which Unity House partners with law enforcement to use a team approach and risk assessment tools to identify and respond to domestic violence cases that are at the highest risk for severe physical violence or death.

Loretta K. Davis, Executive Director of The Retreat, said, “The Retreat is so grateful for the opportunity to expand our efforts toward the prevention of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and bullying by strengthening our partnerships with local youth and the influential adults in their lives. This funding will strengthen our programs around awareness, healthy relationships and the availability of community resources and supports, and it will allow us to equip young people and bystanders with the skills to recognize and respond to abuse. We believe that these enhanced efforts will support abuser accountability and will lead to the kinds of long-term changes necessary for our children to live in a world that is free from violence.”

Unity House CEO Christopher Burke said, “Unity House is excited for this opportunity because we believe it will help us further our mission to support the right of everyone in our community to live peacefully and to engage in relationships that are meaningful, healthy and safe. With these funds, we will develop an integrated prevention strategy to help prevent firearm-involved intimate partner violence by addressing it as both a human rights violation and a social justice issue. This is an especially timely initiative given the pervasive gun violence epidemic impacting our nation, and we are so grateful to be part of the solution.”

New York continues to expand its commitment to protecting victims and survivors of domestic violence. Most recently, Governor Cuomo has signed legislation that increases the statute of limitations for civil suits related to injury caused by domestic violence to two years; requires companies to allow victims of domestic violence, who are fleeing their abusers and have received an order of protection, to terminate their multi-year or bundled contract with a telephone or cable or satellite company at a location they have fled without penalty; and expands employment nondiscrimination protections for victims of domestic violence, among other protections.

The New York State Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (1-800-942-6906) offers help and information 24 hours a day in English, Spanish and other languages. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can call 711. New York State also supports and funds community-based programs to assist victims of domestic and sexual violence and other crimes, including these Domestic Violence Resources.

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence has three primary areas of focus: to advise the Governor and Legislature on policies and practices for the state; to train professionals from all disciplines across the state about the intersection of domestic violence in their daily practice; and to serve as a resource regarding the issue of domestic violence by disseminating regular public awareness campaigns, publishing materials for use by non-profits and victims and highlighting best practices.