NEWBURGH – Safe Homes of Orange County answered 3,070 hotline calls, provided 5,507 counseling sessions to victims, created 3,165 individual safety plans, and provided 15,700 advocacy services, all in 2015. Those are staggering numbers, which overshadowed the annual beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The Clothesline Project was on display in Newburgh with t-shirts in memory of those who have died at the hands of their domestic partners. The Clothesline was also hung in Middletown and Port Jervis. The long rows of t-shirts include 23 dedicated specifically to women who perished in Orange County alone since 2004.
Those who spoke at the Newburgh ceremony addressed the current situation of domestic violence in the state and county as well as what is being done to improve services for victims and mitigate future domestic violence instances.
Currently, New York State has the highest need for domestic violence services in the country and also has the most unmet needs in the country.
A Pilot program has been launched in Newburgh for a lethality study working with cases of domestic violence victims, and their assailants, to identify key factors in domestic abuse circumstances that lead to death.
“What it is, it’s essentially a study where we put focus on domestic violence cases to see what offenders are going to be the most dangerous, and we do that by constant follow-up with the victims, more attention to the case and at the end of the day, our goal here is to try to see why they offend, what’s the best way to stop them from offending, who is at greatest risk: what victims are at greatest risk of being seriously injured or killed; and then, in the end, evaluate it and see what exists in the world of rehabilitation that can best lead us to a successful outcome,” said Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler.
Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus said although there is always a need for state and federal funding, the county is making strides to help victims. About three weeks ago, the county launched the text 911 initiative which, he said, will greatly improve the chances for the one-in-four women who will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, as well as other victims of any violent crime, domestic or otherwise.
“I’d have to say, more important than anything, is this texting 911. It will literally save lives,” said Neuhaus. “We’ve seen it happen in other jurisdictions around the county, and around the state, where somebody can’t call, either because they’re hearing impaired; but, more often is that because they’re directly under the threat of that individual and the texting will literally save their life.”
Orange is the only county in the Hudson Valley, besides Dutchess, to have a 911 texting program.
Safe Homes Executive Director Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier said despite all of their efforts they have had to turn away more people than they could accommodate.
Anyone in need of help, due to domestic violence of any level, is encouraged to call the Safe Homes of Orange County hotline at 845-562-5340. All calls are completely confidential, and if it’s an emergency they can call, or text, 911.