October 1, 2019 - 10:15am
The state Office of Victim Services (OVS) proudly joins the nation in recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month
The state Office of Victim Services (OVS) proudly joins the nation in recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). DVAM began as a “Day of Unity” in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to connect victims and advocates around the country. Today, the entire month of October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month here in New York State and across the nation.
New York remains committed to providing greater protections for domestic violence victims. In February, New York State enacted legislation expanding assistance for victims of domestic violence who were not physically injured during the crime. The law allows these individuals to apply for reimbursement of shelter costs and crime scene cleanup expenses from the Office of Victim Services. Previously, victims who were not physically injured during the crime were only eligible for certain OVS benefits if the charges included criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation; certain menacing, harassment, aggravated harassment, criminal contempt and stalking offenses; and hate crimes. These individuals were eligible to seek compensation from the agency for a variety of crime-related expenses, such as bills related to counseling and moving expenses, but crime scene cleanup and shelter costs were not included. These expenses are now covered for such claims filed with OVS.
OVS has partnered with SUNY, Empire Justice Center and ProBonoNet to create New York Crime Victims Legal Help, an online resource allowing victims, including domestic violence victims, to learn about their rights and connect with resources or legal representation to ensure their interests are represented. Established using $1.5 million in federal funds secured by OVS, the resource is available in all statewide counties outside New York City. Many victims of crime have legal needs resulting from their victimization – such as assistance with housing or custody matters – but are unsure where to turn for help. This user-friendly, online resource makes it easier for those individuals to get the assistance they need.
OVS is also a proud partner of the SUNY’s Got Your Back program – an opportunity for students, faculty and other volunteers to create comfort bags for victims and survivors of sexual, interpersonal and domestic violence. The program was launched in 2016 and has continued annually with events at each of the State University of New York’s 64 campuses. OVS has provided $5 million in federal funding allowing SUNY to supply and distribute the bags of personal care and comfort items to victims seeking help at hospitals, shelters and sexual assault crisis centers.
In addition, OVS has partnered with the New York State Office for Aging to enhance and expand multidisciplinary teams across the state in providing services for older adult victims, including those who suffer from sexual assault and domestic violence.
As we recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month, OVS continues its mission of help, healing and hope for all innocent victims of crime. If you are a victim of a crime, including crimes related to domestic violence, help may be available to you through our agency. Learn more about crime victims’ compensation in New York State.