BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s another day at Haven House, a Buffalo-based shelter for domestic violence victims.
“It’s one of those things – the phone never stops ringing,” said Katey Joyce, the Director at Haven House, which sees around 4,000 new people seeking help each year.
Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is described by the Center for Disease Control as physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression by a current or former intimate partner.
These cases continue making national and local headlines. Just last month, a Buffalo woman was charged with fatally stabbing her boyfriend; last year, a Lackawanna man reported killed his girlfriend during a domestic incident. Video of Raven’s player, Ray Rice, knocking out his then-fiance went viral a few years back; former NFL player Johnny Manziel is facing charges for allegedly hitting his former girlfriend.
“Those are only the cases that rose to the public’s view or the criminal justice view,” said Joyce. “It’s only part of the true story.”
“A threat can be a scream or a threat can be a whisper,” said Michael J. Flaherty, the acting district attorney for Erie County. “It can be physical. Before that, it can be yelling, belittling, isolating the victim from her [or his] family and friends.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence estimates 4.8 million people are victimized each year. The NNEDV shows New York State has the greatest need for services. On a given day, almost 7,000 New Yorkers come forward, looking to receive help relating to domestic violence; nearly 1,000 of those people cannot receive aid due to insufficient funding.
In Erie County, the number has been dropping. In 2013, more than 5,100 cases were reported – within recent years, this was the year with
the most cases. In 2015, that number dropped by nearly 700 incidents, with 4450 incidents reported.
“This isn’t a private problem,” said Joyce. “It is a community problem and the community has to take a stand and say ‘We won’t tolerate this.'”
Of those incidents, 76.6% happened in the city and 85% of victims were women.
“Too often, this happens behind closed doors,” said the D.A.
“Across the board, there’s no exception to the rule,” said Joyce. “No socioeconomic group that’s not been effected; no culture; race; ethnic group; no age.”
The district attorney says he’s seen a shift in both the criminal justice system and the community’s view on the issue.
“I am hopeful that some of those numbers reflect the public’s awareness,” said the D.A. “We may have, today, victims who might not have come forward just a few years ago.”
Joyce and Flaherty are working together with a number of different agencies including the police, community activists, intervention specialists and counselors, in their efforts to work with victims and help them come out stronger.
“We are chipping away at this problem,” said Joyce. “It’s big but we’re chipping away at it.”
“We want to make sure that this case is the last case we will every have with a couple,” said the D.A.
If you or someone you know is being hurt by domestic violence, you can call Haven House’s confidential tip line 24 hours a day at (716)884-6000.