(Hauppauge, NY-October 9, 2014) County Executive Bellone was joined by County officials, Domestic Violence Agencies and members of the Suffolk County Task Force to Prevent Family Violence to celebrate the 24th Annual Suffolk County Commemoration Day dedicated to remembering the survivors and victims of domestic violence.
“Sadly, we live in a world where domestic violence is very prevalent,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “As a father and a husband, I am devastated for those who have witnessed and experienced domestic violence within their homes, places that should be safe and secure. Today is a day to remember those victims of domestic violence and celebrate the survivors. I thank all of the agencies that do the important work every day in the lives of families struggling with violence.”
Over the past two and a half years, County Executive Bellone and administration representatives have been meeting with the Domestic Violence agencies as a working group and in 2012 collaboratively developed a database to track domestic crimes, their location, the language spoken by victims and other key information to allow all agencies to better respond to those in crisis. In addition, the working group partnered with Girl Scouts of America in public awareness initiatives and most recently advocated for the inclusion of domestic violence victims in Suffolk County’s groundbreaking Human Rights Law, ensuring that victims are now a protected class.
In July of this year, the Suffolk County Task Force to Prevent Family Violence was formally convened and is making significant headway in issues that impact children and youth, violence prevention, legal issues as well as developing new opportunities for professional development.
“In Suffolk County we are fortunate to have a strong and collaborative team inclusive of the County Executive, the Legislature, Police Department, District Attorney’s Office, Probation and the Task Force to Prevent Family Violence who are all committed to working together to break the cycle of domestic violence,” stated Laura Ahern, Executive Director Crime Victims Center at Parents for Megan’s Law. “The ongoing and new initiatives of the County continue to make Suffolk County’s response to domestic violence a comprehensive plan to service and protect victims.”
For the first time the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) organization is now part of the County’s Task Force. In years past, the group advocated for inclusion but those requests were not granted. Under the leadership of County Executive Bellone and the newly formed Task Force to Prevent Family Violence, LIGALY is now a member. This task force is an inclusive body that recognizes that domestic violence crosses all lines of gender, sexuality, age, socioeconomic and ethnic status.
“We applaud the knowledge, awareness and actions of those in our community…County Executive Bellone, the Suffolk County Task Force to Prevent Family Violence, our domestic violence agencies and the citizens of Suffolk County who are continually working to help prevent future victimization of those in our communities who find themselves faced with domestic violence,” stated Marlene Gregory, Director of Rape Crisis and Community Education-Victims Information Bureau.
Suffolk County will implement a new initiative to identify every constituent-facing office in the County to provide training and domestic violence resources to those employees who interact with the public in an effort to increase access to services and resources for those in need. Someone who comes in for help from the County through one door may need other services and should be able to access them wherever their point of contact is with the County.
“When the media attention surrounding domestic violence ends, the families affected will still need assistance. All of us have the power to end domestic violence by being positive role models to the children and young adults we know,” said Michele Pollack Rich, Executive Director of the Retreat Shelter
The County will also engage in an educational campaign kicking off Super Bowl weekend, which will highlight the National designation of February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Suffolk County will work with youth organizations and educational institutions to ensure youth and young adults have knowledge about services, information and listings of resources to be able to assist them if they are faced with violence in relationships.
“In Suffolk County, through the Task Force and through other collaborative relationships, we are working toward a community that has the resources and shared knowledge to adequately address domestic violence, as we also continue to work toward preventing it,” stated Colleen Merlo, Executive Director, Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“Sepa Mujer is proud to join Suffolk County in its 24th Annual Commemoration Day,” stated Martha Maffei, Executive Director, Services for the Advancement of Women “Sepa Mujer. “I believe it is important to honor and empower survivors of domestic violence, while creating awareness and sending a powerful message that we all need to stand against this horrible crime.”
“We thank the County Executive, his staff and the Task Force to Prevent Family Violence for their support of this event as well as their efforts to help eradicate domestic violence,” said Dawn Brown, Executive Director of Brighter Tomorrows. “We are pleased to be a growing domestic violence agency thanks to our partnership with Suffolk County.
“Family Violence is an issue that we in Suffolk County should have no tolerance for,” said County Executive Bellone. “Our Police Department has among the most stringent domestic violence laws in the country and we will continue to work hard to ensure that we eradicate violence in all its forms.”