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Crime Victims Board finally acknowledging DV victims in NYS

Posted Oct 02 2009 3:07pm

There is good news for domestic violence victims filing claims with CVB, a state program that compensates victims of crime. After making one complaint after another, and suggesting the CVB open up a specialized DV unit to handle DV claims, I was given information today suggesting that CVB may actually address the concerns I have raised for all DV victims. As per the Director of Rockland Family Shelter, "Commissioner Stanford also shared that she has convened a meeting with board members, council and medical staff about your case and to address the concerns that you have raised facing victims of domestic violence obtaining the necessary documentation to receive benefits".

After spending half the year fulfilling CVB's requests, some requests have been ridiculous and impossible to obtain, I find myself at a point where I can no longer obtain certain bits of information from doctors for my claim. Most recently, when CVB requested I get a physician's statement from my orthopedic surgeon stating 100% of my injury was due to abuse, my hands were tied and my claim was put on hold. As I explained to the Senator's office, many victims of DV do not report the abuse to medical staff, doctors, or even police out of fear. In my case, I will never be able to obtain a physician's statement from my doctors claiming that my husband broke my leg, because at the time I was in fear of my life and in the constant presence of my abuser. The best statement I have from one of my physicians is "patient broke left leg while at home with husband"....this is not cutting it. For many victims of DV, there are documents that we simply cannot obtain due to the circumstances and it is unjust for CVB to deny, put on hold, or string DV victims around with impossible requests.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and have a claim with the CVB in your state, please make sure you bring any impossible requests to their attention. This is an issue that needs to be addressed on a national level with all Crime Victims Programs across the country, not just in NY--although I'm glad CVB is starting to take some action in NY. Programs for victims need to take into account the fact that domestic violence is a highly complex crime, and victims don't always report or have complete files/documentation due to their unique situations. As for CVB, this meeting with the staff will be a move in the right direction, but in the near future, there needs to be a specialized DV unit working on these specific claims, making sure that no victim falls through the cracks of the system.
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