Addressing the NYS CVB and the White House Adviser, Lynn Rosenthal, on Ending Violence Against Women
Posted Feb 03 2010 12:00am
After battling with the NYS Crime Victims Compensation Board for one whole year now, I feel I have enough information to effectively speak on behalf of all crime victims suffering through the claim process in every state. After an entire year, and one appeal hearing, the NYS CVB finally amended their decision and approved my claim. This positive outcome was not easy to achieve, nor was the process pleasant. Proving my domestic violence case to the Crime Victims Compensation agency was work, a full time job, and I can see why so many victims never follow through on their claims in this country, and why so many claims get denied by this agency claiming to assist crime victims. For many victims, these agencies seem almost corrupt, disorganized, and out of touch with reality. I still feel this way, even though my claim was recently approved and my days of battling NYS CVB are over (I hope). As I sit here and write, I feel triumph, like I have won this entire battle I have been fighting for for so long....like my days of persuading, fighting, arguing, and proving myself over and over to a Crime Victims Organization are long behind me. It shouldn't feel this way, but it does. Victims shouldn't have to feel like they are at battle with the very organizations designed to help and assist them, but more often than not, dealing with Crime Victims Organizations will be a greater struggle than leaving an abusive relationship, or dealing with stalking, or dealing with an offender.
As a domestic violence victim trying to understand the actual crime itself, I knew I had to go through the entire process of seeking assistance and help from many, many DV organizations, shelters, and even the NYS Crime Victims Board. To my dismay, almost every organization and agency failed me, ignored me, and provided me with little to no assistance. There has only been one agency, Safe Homes, that has actually provided me with cash so that I could seek temporary medical treatment, and Rockland Family Shelter provided me with free legal assistance for a Family Court case. Other than this, I have spent endless amounts of time struggling through the failing system that so many become accustomed to and accept over time, which is something that needs to change. While going through this system, these hundreds of DV organizations, agencies, local DV shelters, and finally NYS CVB, I have learned that the service providers are failing many women. None of the organizations seem to be connected or affiliated with the next organization and there is practically no follow-up with victims from advocates. The DV Coalitions seem to be advocating against victims and for offenders (no GPS for victims), unresponsive to actual victims, and use donations as tips to their workers rather than actual victim relief (NCADV). This is just to start with, I have observed many more things over time, but these really stand out to me at the moment.
On February 2nd, Lynn Rosenthal put out a press release about the White House being committed to ending violence against women. The press release mentions that in 2011 there will be a $130.5MILLION DOLLAR increase for the domestic violence budget, and these funds will be funneled into the typical Domestic Violence Organizations and shelters, the DV hotline (let's remember they only answer phones there), and legal assistance for battered women (this is greatly needed, but I won't believe it till I see it-as far as I know, only larger cities have access to pro bono lawyers). Other than providing funds for legal assistance, the rest seems like a status quo approach to dealing with very real, very old problems. We need better solutions to these problems, not necessarily more money being funneled into the very organizations that are failing our women in need. Over the course of a year, I have been witness to many victims speaking out against these funded agencies that claim to assist and advocate, but fail victims left and right. In my opinion, we need accountability for each and every Domestic Violence Service Provider, DV Coalition, DV shelter, and especially each and every State Crime Victims Compensation Program across the country. We already have polls and surveys about the victims that get help from the DV service providers, now we need to pay close attention to those victims getting denied, turned away, and failed by these funded agencies. We need accountability. We need new solutions, and not every solution needs to be giving these large organizations more cash without accountability.