Syracuse police arrested more than 1300 people for domestic violence last year...and Onondaga County Sheriff’s Deputies took in another 900. Those are some of the figures that paint the picture in Vera House's annual report to the community on Domestic Violence. Monday's release of the report focused on the wide range of victims...and growing services to help.
The majority of domestic and sexual violence victims are women...but Tim was one victim who shared his story.
“My perpetrator was my father. In fact he sexually abused my sister as well.”
Tim recalls being sexually abused as a teen and younger...as well as being severely beaten repeatedly until he left home.
“But with all of this, perhaps the most powerful abuse was the psychological abuse. This was the hardest to overcome. I still suffer from feelings of inadequacy and strong, physical body memories. Even though I know the origin, the feelings and the body memories persist.”
He thanked Vera House for providing a beacon of hope with men’s survivor programs
Other victims of abuse can be the elderly where relatives are on the other end of violence...something Vera House's Jenny Hicks says present unique challenges.
“Parents who want to shield their abusive children from prosecution but want the abuse to stop. Spouses who decide it’s finally time to leave a life-long abusive marriage but are concerned about the impact on other family members. Grandparents being threatened by their grandchildren who have problems with substance abuse, and prey on them to fund their addiction.”
The agency is now working with a coalition of law enforcement and social agencies called the Evergreen Network to address the problems of elder abuse.
One of the most striking and moving messages was provided by the Silent Witness display -- panels of people killed in domestic violence and their stories -- that all too clearly tell of the possibly tragic end to abuse. That aspect is still hard for Director Randi Bregman to work through after 26 years with Vera House.
“Nine years ago today we lost Linda Neely, one of our silent witnesses here. 17 years ago at our report to the community, Jill Cahill lay dying at the hospital and the District Attorney came to the report while we were praying for her life. Year after year the pain is palpable and sometimes it feels like it might break our hearts.”
Bregman says the energy she sees in the prevention and healing work keep her going. The event applauded the Enough is Enough campus sexual violence act for all colleges in New York, as well as community programs with sports teams and men’s groups to challenge abuse, all part of the range or programs for support and prevention of domestic and sexual violence..
Some of the reports other findings for 2014: Domestic Violence Courts handled 770 misdemeanor and 230 felony abuse cases; City and County courts issued almost 1300 orders of protection; and there was one intimate partner homicide. Meanwhile area shelters housed 1086 adults and children seeking shelter from domestic violence.