Sgt. Joseph Rutigliano, with the city of Newburgh Police Department, says victims of domestic violence are afraid to tell of their experiences and can almost live in "a state of acceptance." Legislation recently signed by Governor Cuomo works to combat that climate of fear.
"Especially at the beginning, there was a really good job at selling that domestic violence was a private family matter. Abusers use that tactic to keep their victims entrenched and isolated from any support," said Kellyann Kostyal- Larrier, executive director of Safe Homes of Orange County.
Advocates at Safe Homes of Orange County say they are glad the new laws address economic abuse — which is often a component of domestic violence.
"The perception of making them feel safer and that's what we need to do is make them, allow the victims, to feel comfortable reporting these crimes so we can hold the offenders accountable," Rutigliano said.
The legislation also allows victims to vote by mail and — what advocates say is most important — victims can now report the abuse to any law enforcement agency in the state, regardless of where it took place.
"At times, where they have experienced their abuse isn't always the safest place to stay and engage the criminal justice system — specifically law enforcement. Or, they have to get out of the community rather quickly and make life or death decisions," Kostyal- Larrier said.
While this legislation is a big step in holding abusers accountable, advocates say following through is the next step.
"Law is great, but putting it into practice is the next phase and we are educating each other and are really encouraging victims to do what is best for them," Kostyal-Larrier said.
If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic violence, safe homes of Orange County has a 24 hour hotline you can call at 845-562-5340.