NEWBURGH—Orange County receives about 300 emergency calls a year relating to domestic violence, said Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus, which is why the county needs to increase its awareness of, and efforts to prevent it.
“I see domestic violence on a daily basis,” Neuhaus said. “This is unacceptable.”
Neuhaus and other officials from state, county, and local governments gathered at the offices of Safe Homes Orange County, the county’s premier agency working to end domestic violence, in Newburgh on Oct. 3 to recognize the beginning of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Speaking of the ways the county is committed to ending domestic violence, he pointed to the county’s commitment to funding the Safe Homes employees who work with the county’s child protective services, and stepping in when funding for Safe Homes’ rape crisis center was cut a year and a half ago.
While not specific to domestic abuse, Orange County launched a text-to-911 feature last month for situations where someone may not be able to, or feel comfortable, calling 911. By doing so, Orange County joined 20 out of the state’s 72 counties in offering this feature, Neuhaus said.
The county also launched a Lethality Risk Assessment Program this month that would collect data on both victims and abusers so Safe Homes and law enforcement can target those who need help the most. The pilot project is funded for two years, and will focus on the City of Newburgh.
For Safe Homes Executive Director Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier, the month is about getting Safe Homes name out to the public, and talking about domestic violence, specifically nonphysical forms of it.
“For the next 31 days, I really want people to talk about all the tactics of control,” she said. “We don’t do enough to raise awareness around the emotional, psychological, financial, and sexual violence victims experience every single day.”
Safe Homes provides counseling, support groups, legal services, and other forms of support to victims of domestic violence free of charge, and gives training to agencies, businesses, law enforcement, and individuals around domestic violence.
Kostyal-Larrier urges people to check out their website and those in need to contact them through their the 24/7 hotline at 845-562-5340.
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