Domestic Violence (DV) survivors often find themselves in dire need of support, from shelter and legal aid to counseling and financial assistance. Yet funding for organizations that serve survivors has fallen short. The 2023 New York State budget is a stark example of this shortfall. Despite being on the frontlines of helping survivors, victim assistance providers faced budget cuts, leaving them financially strained and unable to provide essential services. Nearly 90 "legacy" victim assistance providers saw a decrease in funding, resulting in a staggering loss of $11.7 million annually. This situation has led to hundreds of vacancies across domestic violence programs in the state, limiting their ability to help those in need.
DV advocates remain overlooked for cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) and salary increases that have benefited other human service workers. This year was no exception, as New York State, once again, omitted DV advocates from COLA considerations. This oversight has resulted in significant staff turnover and an inability to recruit new employees, leading to hundreds of vacant positions within DV programs across the state. Survivors of domestic violence are left to bear the brunt of New York's failure to invest in these critical services. Every day, the state denies thousands of survivors and their family members the vital assistance they desperately need.
New York's DV service delivery system now stands at a tipping point, one that it is perilously close to crossing unless officials make urgent investments in these life-sustaining services. While the state's leaders have engaged in extensive discussions regarding public safety and law enforcement, the needs of crime victims, particularly survivors of domestic violence, have been consistently ignored. There remains a glimmer of hope as lawmakers can still dedicate critical funding to victims of domestic violence and other crimes, ensuring they receive the support and help they deserve in the state budget.
It's time to address this silent crisis and prioritize the well-being of survivors and those who advocate tirelessly on their behalf. While New York State elected officials have passed meaningful reform to help survivors, the pendulum has not swung far enough. There are bills the New York State Legislature can advance and others waiting for Governor Hochul to put her pen to the paper to sign into law.
Senator Bailey and Assemblymember Stirpe sponsored legislation (A1113/S936) that would amend the public housing law by adding DV survivors to the list of prioritized populations when it comes to housing programs. A crucial part of a DV survivor's healing is having a safe place to live and cut ties with the party responsible for their harm. Senator Parker and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill (A6780/S7198) that provides crucial protections for domestic violence victims seeking to cancel shared telephone and/or cable contracts. Both items are still waiting to move in the Legislature.
The Fair Access to Victim Compensation Act (FAVC; S214A-Myrie/A2105A-Meeks), which expands eligibility for all survivors of crime to access victim compensation funds by removing the mandatory law enforcement reporting requirement, passed the Legislature this year. Survivors of crime, specifically domestic violence, don’t always feel comfortable working with law enforcement and often don’t report their harm— due to fear of not being believed, retaliation, and that a loved one may be in the criminal legal system. This FAVC Act is waiting for Governor Hochul’s signature. Healing is not only emotional but also financial, too. As October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, it would be an optimal time for Governor Hochul to put her pen to paper and sign this legislation. We would like to take the time to highlight some organizations that have been doing powerful work in the DV space:
- New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence works to create and support the social change necessary to prevent and confront all forms of domestic violence.
- Safe Horizon has been helping victims of domestic and sexual violence from crisis since 1978.
- Joyful Heart Foundation is driven to heal and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.
- Long Live Our Butterfly focuses on domestic violence prevention and education to change the lives of others.
- Day One works to end dating abuse and domestic violence through community education and legal advocacy.
- Sanctuary for Families is dedicated to the safety and healing of victims of domestic violence and related forms of gender violence.
If you are in New York State and experiencing domestic and/or sexual violence, advocates are standing by ready to provide confidential support, 24/7 in most languages. Call 800-942-6906, text 844-997-2121, or chat located on this website. If you are out of New York State but looking for resources, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website for more information.