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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month as problem continues to evolve

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To mark the occasion, several Capital Region organizations are working together to support victims and educate the public.

Alyssa DeRosa is Deputy Executive Director of External Affairs for New York’s Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

“According to the CDC, one in three women experienced domestic violence and one in four men. About one-third of same sex relationships also experienced domestic violence. And you know, in New York, we know that it impacts over 80,000 New Yorkers each year,” DeRosa said.

DeRosa encourages survivors and victims to reach out via 24/7 hotline at 800-942-6906, text 844-997-2121, or use the 24/7 chat at opdv.ny.gov.

First observed in 1981 as a national “Day of Unity,” Domestic Violence Awareness Month includes a number of events this year.

Amanda Anderson is Director of Fulton County’s Domestic Violence Program and The Family Counseling Center.

“This year, our theme is not all abuse is physical, because we really like to highlight that there is a lot more abuse. There's financial abuse, there's emotional psychological abuse, there's digital abuse, like stalking, that sometimes it never gets to a point where it's physical,” Anderson said.

Clothing and luggage drives are under way.

“We're very excited to be partnering with the Johnstown Public Library as well as the Gloversville Public Library for a new and gently used luggage drive,” Anderson said.

As for clothing:

“There are drop off locations at the Montgomery County Courthouse, the Fulton County DA's office, Saratoga County DA's office, the Guilderland Public Library, the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce and the Albany County Bar Association,” Anderson said.

Events will include a number of fundraisers and public information campaigns.

 A support group meets in-person and virtually each Thursday.

Reverend Laurie Garramone is rector of St. John’s Church in Johnstown and director of One Church Street, a food pantry and community center. She says her role is to direct people to services.

“We can point people in those directions, and then accompany them as they make those contacts. Because domestic violence particularly is one of those challenges that happen within a household and they can often be, I'm not going to say the word I'm thinking of a secret, but that's not the right word. But they it can be covered up in a way that other things may not be. And it is more common than we realize,” Garramone said.

 Although organized through the church, Garramone says One Church Street isn’t a religious organization.

 Garramone says community awareness is domestic violence prevention and when someone seeks One Church Street’s help, she’s there.

“I sit down with somebody and always I'm in a confidential space. And I say, why don't you tell me your story and tell me what's going on so that we can go to the next place in order to find you the help that you need? I think the first step is getting people to tell their story,” Garramone said.

 From there, Garramone works to refer people to a next step forward, typically with a domestic violence program or shelter.

 “There are a variety of different places. I also, depending on someone's age, I could call the Office for the Aging, I could check in with the Family Counseling Center,” Garramone said.

 The Gloversville Public Library and the Johnstown Public Library are drop-off centers for luggage.

 Director Valerie Acklin of the Gloversville library says luggage denotes normalcy in the face of chaos when a person flees.

“Even your belongings are chaotic and having just some luggage when your life is so uncertain. Being able to know what you have to organize it to fold it to keep it clean, to keep track of it, it might not sound like a lot but it can be,” Acklin said.

Not only is it Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Acklin says the library and its parent system, the Mohawk Valley Library System, are participating in the Great Giveback, an annual day of service on October 21st.

DeRosa, with the state, says domestic violence takes many forms and typically includes coercive control.

“It's over time, somebody's controlling somebody, somebody threatening them, someone using their power over another to make that person do what that other person wants,” DeRosa said.

 In recent years, a new front has opened online.

“Stalking, using technology, what we're seeing with ‘revenge porn,’ and deepfakes, all of that, and harassment online,” DeRosa said.

 New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, just signed legislation banning the dissemination of AI-generated pornography without permission.

DeRosa says financial control can also constitute domestic abuse.

 While October is the official awareness month, DeRosa acknowledges it’s a daily problem.

 “For us, you know, every month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. But our theme this year is starting the conversation about domestic violence in your life,” DeRosa said.

 There’s more information here.

A 2022 Siena College graduate, Alexander began his journalism career as a sports writer for Siena College's student paper The Promethean, and as a host for Siena's school radio station, WVCR-FM "The Saint." A Cubs fan, Alexander hosts the morning Sports Report in addition to producing Morning Edition. You can hear the sports reports over-the-air at 6:19 and 7:19 AM, and online on WAMC.org. He also speaks Spanish as a second language. To reach him, email ababbie@wamc.org, or call (518)-465-5233 x 190. You can also find him on Twitter/X: @ABabbieWAMC.