SHAP hosts talk on domestic abuse
To respectfully observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to shine light on issues that need to be illuminated, the New York County District Attorney’s office held an event in coordination with Baruch College’s Sexual Harassment & Assault Prevention Committee on Oct. 17.
Led by Shira Arnow, New York County assistant district attorney, and organized by Baruch’s SHAP Committee, the event focused primarily on the handling of domestic violence claims, cases and complaints by the legal system of New York state.
While respectful of the legal process and its relation to the classification of domestic violence, the event held a far greater purpose, which was to help save lives.
The event, with Arnow and Brandy Peer, Baruch's associate director for community standards, shifted into a discussion regarding prevention techniques and the many efforts made by both New York state and Baruch to render aid to those in need.
While Arnow demonstrated the need for continued innovation of new resources to help survivors, punish offenders and deter violence of this kind, the frequency of these abuses is still alarming.
Arnow revealed that 241,580 emergency calls were made to NYPD dispatchers in response to domestic violence in 2016 alone, with an average of 671 domestic violence calls per day in New York City, according to the New York County DA’s office. The national reoffender rate of convicted domestic violence abusers currently sits at around 70 percent, shedding light on its urgency within New York City.
This epidemic of domestic abuse must come to an end, and Arnow, along with Peer, made it a point that New York state has taken an extra step in deterring these types of abuses. The aggravated family offense, a newly added penal statute to the New York state Criminal Penal Code, punishes reoffenders of domestically violent misdemeanors with a felony if they have committed the previous misdemeanor within the last five years.
While this legal classification will serve as a progressive foresight into the future of our state, Arnow still thinks more can be done.
“I think the law is doing as much as it can, within its parameters. I am quite happy with the way the law operates around this issue, but this is still an issue,” said Arnow.
When asked how the issue can, at the very least, be deflated, Arnow accentuated the need for community involvement.
“Communities of people need to band together and speak up against this issue,” explained Arnow.
Peer and Joy Allison, associate director of Health and Wellness, work rigorously to ensure students’ safety and awareness both on and off campus by providing resources for survivors of domestic abuse.
Whether it is organizing campus-accessible awareness events, providing legal resources available to survivors or serving as liaisons among Baruch’s dean of students, survivors and abusers to resolve domestic violence related issues, Peer and Allison are always hard at work.
“We want students to know they have somewhere to go when they need counseling, safety or guidance,” said Allison.
Any student who feels that they have been harassed, abused or made to feel uncomfortable when pursuing an education, is encouraged by Baruch to contact the emergency Public Safety line at 646-312-3333 or by visiting an officer at the entrance to any Baruch building.
If not experiencing an imminent threat, students can contact the dean of students at 646-312-4570 or go to Newman Vertical Campus room 3-175 and ask to speak to Peer or Allison.