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No counseling for victims of domestic violence in Rockland County NY

Posted Nov 12 2009 10:04pm
Congressman Engel/Assemblyman Zebrowski/Senator Morahan/Carolyn Fish/Ms. Cusack/Ms. Cobart:

For those who do not know my situation, I am a survivor of domestic violence in NYS. For over a year, I have tried hard to get help from DV organizations, agencies, and state programs and after many attempts, letters, and phone calls, I have failed. I have been trying to receive compensation from CVB for a very long time now, and still I am struggling with CVB on a daily basis. Many DV victims struggle with compensation from CVB, and in the end, give up because the process is too difficult, and too many documents are needed (many DV victims cannot supply all the requested information for many reasons).

Although I am still dealing with CVB everyday, I also deal with this reality: There is no real help for DV victims. There are many who think there is help available, especially after one reads about all the money being funneled into DV organizations, shelters, and programs, but there is simply no help. When I state that there is no help, I mean that there is a lack of DV court advocates in NY, a lack of DV counselors willing to assist DV victims, almost no pro bono DV divorce lawyers for abuse victims, and laws that don't reflect reality for victims of this crime. After visiting the CVB website in NYS, I was surprised to see all of the programs given grants to aid DV victims this year. Being that I am a victim of brutal domestic violence myself, I thought it would be at least possible to ask my shelter for free counseling for the trauma I have been through. After two weeks of waiting, there is still no answer for me unless I have the money to pay. There are "volunteer" counseling services like VCS in Rockland, but they want victims to pay out of pocket. Other therapists in the area will not work with CVB payment plans. And since CVB is taking so long to compensate me, that can't be an option anyway. Many victims of DV are completely financially ruined after abuse and divorce, and have nothing left. I would think it would be relatively easy to find free volunteer counseling for this crime, but it is impossible.

When I read statements like this "Ten non-profit organizations that assist crime victims in the greater Capital Region, New York City and Western New York are slated to receive nearly $3 million over the next three years to enhance programs and services for children and adults who have been victims of sexual assault, domestic violence or other crimes." I am confused.

When I see this “These grants will assist the most vulnerable victims of particularly devastating crimes – sex crimes and domestic violence – by providing access to direct support, such as counseling, help obtaining orders of protection, and accompaniment to court. This assistance is critical in helping victims deal with trauma and begin to rebuild their lives.” I wonder, who are these victims?

I am not one of these victims, and none of the victims I know in NYS, or even across this country, fall into this category.

Today I want to request a meeting with my state representatives. The lack of response and assistance is shocking, shameful, and it's no longer about me anymore. I have to lay my problems aside everyday because I know there is a bigger picture here, and we are all ignoring it together.

I look forward to hearing from you Congressman Engel, Assemblyman Zebrowski, and Senator Morahan.

Thank you.

Maria Phelps
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