Center Will House Leadership of DA’s Domestic Violence Unit, Sex Crimes Unit, Human Trafficking Program, Elder Abuse Unit, and Child Abuse Unit
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray, activist and author Gloria Steinem, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, and Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner Rose Pierre-Louis today celebrated the grand opening of the Manhattan Family Justice Center, where all of the resources available to domestic violence victims will be located under one roof. With only one appointment, victims who come to the Family Justice Center can meet with an Assistant District Attorney, receive legal advice on divorces, orders of protection, custody, and immigration issues, talk to a counselor, and apply for emergency housing – all while their children play safely in a supervised room next door.
“Domestic violence is not just a criminal justice issue, it is a public health crisis in New York City and across the country,” said District Attorney Vance. “While nearly every other type of crime has dropped in the last decade, domestic violence crimes have not. Today, we hope to send a strong message to victims of domestic violence: we are here to help you, and we will use every resource at our disposal to ensure your safety and to help you build a new life. To do so, I moved the leadership of my Office’s entire Special Victims Bureau into the Manhattan Family Justice Center, so we can serve victims of not only domestic violence, but also sexual assault, elder abuse, human trafficking, and child abuse – crimes that often accompany domestic violence. Domestic violence remains underreported, but it is slowly becoming more and more visible with the help of our partners in the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, and the advocacy community. We will continue to fight this dangerous – and too often deadly – crime together.”
First Lady Chirlane McCray said: “I’m thrilled to see the doors to the Manhattan Family Justice Center open to help domestic violence survivors. We must continue giving victims a voice and the support system they need to help them get back on their feet.”
Activist and author Gloria Steinem said: “Violence in the home normalizes violence everywhere else. There could be nothing more important to all of us in this country than to interrupt and heal the cycles of domestic violence. It’s crucial, first, because the number of American women and men murdered in 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined is exceeded by the number of American women murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the same time period. It’s also crucial because private terrorism becomes public terrorism.”
The Manhattan Family Justice Center is located at 80 Centre Street in close proximity to the Criminal, Family, and Supreme Court buildings. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has moved the leadership of its entire Special Victims Bureau into the Family Justice Center, an initiative unique to Manhattan. This enables the District Attorney’s staff to serve victims not only of domestic violence, but also sexual assault, elder abuse, human trafficking, and child abuse, as well as to identify other crimes that often first come to the District Attorney’s Office as domestic violence cases.
The Manhattan Family Justice Center is the City’s fourth Center and will expand on the comprehensive, multilingual services already provided to victims of domestic violence at Centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, as well as through the Staten Island Domestic Violence Response Team. An initiative of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, since 2005 these Centers have assisted over 100,000 clients and more than 21,000 children have visited the children’s rooms.
The Center will bring together a number of community-based service providers and a wide range of City agencies to reach the collective goal of reducing the number of family violence incidents, recidivism, and homicides. The Center will provide victims with a diverse spectrum of services that they need to put their lives back together:
- Prosecution of domestic violence crimes
- Access to prosecutors specially trained in Sex Crimes, Elder Abuse, Child Abuse, and Human Trafficking
- Civil legal representation for immigration and Family Court matters
- Safety planning
- Access to emergency shelter and housing
- Assistance with filing police and probation reports
- Public benefits
- On-site childcare
- Counseling for victims and child witnesses
- Support groups
- Services for the elderly and the disabled
- Financial literacy
- Language interpretation
Last year, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office screened more than 6,500 domestic violence cases – the largest number of cases in the Office’s recorded history. And although New York City’s murder rate has plunged to historic lows, intimate partner homicides – including boyfriend and girlfriend cases – have not: According to the New York City Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee’s Annual Report for 2013, there were 41 intimate partner homicides in 2002, and 40 in 2012. The national statistics are just as stark – one in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said: “Domestic violence is a crisis that touches us all. The Manhattan Family Justice Center will bring together all of the resources available to victims and their families. This will go a long way for those seeking legal advice, counseling, immigration assistance, or emergency services. We would not be standing here without the tireless work of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, my former Deputy Borough President now Commissioner Rose Pierre-Louis, our partners in government, and the advocacy groups who are on the ground working every day to ensure that no victim of abuse is resigned to suffer in silence. I am truly gratified and humbled that the funding my previous office was able to provide has helped to make this day a reality.”
Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli said: “The Family Justice Centers reflect the City’s commitment to provide a meaningful safety net for families experiencing abuse. Working together, with the full weight of city government to support our most vulnerable residents, we can respond to the complex and immediate needs of victims and save lives.”
Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner Rose Pierre-Louis said: “The Family Justice Centers represent a unique partnership of government and community that aims to break down barriers and make it as easy as possible for victims to get the help they need. No one in the City will have to face abuse alone – we are here to help victims in their language, regardless of their income or immigration status. We are committed to reaching out proactively to all communities throughout the City to make sure that this message is heard and no one is left to suffer in silence.”
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said: “Domestic violence and abuse require serious solutions, and the Manhattan Family Justice Center is exactly the type of comprehensive solution we need to take a big step in addressing these issues. I applaud DA Vance’s initiative and commitment to the Family Justice Center. This type of pro-active approach to addressing urgent problems exemplifies leaders giving back to the community.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said: “Providing one-stop ‘shopping’ for victims of domestic violence is a proven way to meet their multiple and urgent needs. I’m sure the Manhattan Family Justice Center will become a shining example of how to deliver services quickly and effectively.”
Incoming Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Elizabeth Glazer said: “The Manhattan Family Justice Center is a smart and effective approach to the troubling and stubborn problem of domestic violence. The District Attorney and the Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence recognize that it will only be solved if the many inter-locking facets of this complex issue can be addressed comprehensively and in a single setting.”
The $6.5 million Manhattan Family Justice Center is made possible with the support of the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and the City Council. To date, the FJC initiative has been a private-public partnership supported by private grants made to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to aiding innovative City initiatives. Private funding of this innovative pilot has helped provide critical evidence of its effectiveness, leveraging the current public investment in the new Manhattan Center. Past supporters of the FJC initiative include The Allstate Foundation, Avon Foundation, Brooke Jackman Foundation, Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, Robin Hood Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Tamara Mellon, OBE, Verizon Foundation, and Verizon Wireless HopeLine Program.
For help from the Family Justice Center near you or to support the Family Justice Center Initiative, visit www.nyc.gov or call 311.
Victims of domestic violence are encouraged to call the Manhattan District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 212-335-4308.
Erin Duggan Kramer (Manhattan DA’s Office) (212) 335-9400
Tracy Weber-Thomas (OCDV) (212) 341-9098