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Study Says City Not Doing Enough To Protect Domestic Violence Victims

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Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum released the findings of her two-year examination of domestic violence in the city Friday, along with recommendations for improvement.

Gotbaum wants the domestic violence registry to be accessible to the Administration for Children’s Services.

She says it’s important to determine whether a potential adoptive or foster care parent has a history of violence.

Gotbaum’s report, called “Opening the Door,” is aimed at better protecting victims of domestic violence and their families.



NY1’s Rebecca Spitz filed this report.

Women are being beaten, killed and stripped of their children, but I am a survivor who lived to tell her story," said abuse survivor Rosana Rodriguez.

It’s been six years since Rodriguez ran away from her abusive husband. She spoke at a breakfast at Baruch College examining the city's ongoing response to domestic violence.

The event was sponsored by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, who says the city's not doing enough for women in crisis.

“We need to do more, and we need to have more spaces so that the women who are trying to become independent, trying to flee, have help," said Gotbaum.

Help for domestic violence survivors is the theme of a new report from Gotbaum's office. Friday, former victims and advocates testified of being trapped in an abusive relationship.

“In my culture it is just not something you publicize,” said abuse survivor Karlene Gordon. “Domestic violence is something that's kept under the rug. It needs to come out in the open, we need to break the silence.”

Gotbaum's report makes several recommendations on how to combat domestic violence: Make it easier to get orders of protection; create more affordable housing for survivors after they've left their homes; and create more facilities like Brooklyn's Family Justice Center. It opened last summer and offers child care and legal help for domestic violence victims.

The commissioner of the city's Office of Domestic Violence counters that the city is doing well in aiding battered women, setting aside $146 million a year to help.

“We have a hotline that answers an average of about 400 calls a day. We have police responding to about 600 incidents a day in the city. So that gives you an idea of the prevalence of the issue," says Commissioner Yolanda Jimenez.

Women who have lived through it say domestic violence is a cycle that needs to be broken.

"My father was very, very violent, so I grew up in a home where there was domestic violence. I wound up in several abusive relationships,” says abuse survivor Maria Santiago. “Then my daughter became a survivor as well. She was married to a police officer, by the way, who battered her."

Santiago is out of that relationship, and is hoping to inspire the next generation of women to stand up for themselves.

As is Rodriguez, who's spent the last six years battling her abuser in Family Court.

“I have to keep fighting because it's my daughter and she needs me,” she said. “I told her I'd never give up."

- Rebecca Spitz
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