October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and it is a time for all of us to speak up about domestic violence, raise awareness, and support survivors of this devastating but all too common issue. Domestic violence can happen to anyone and is present in every community regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion or nationality.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by their intimate partner. With these staggering statistics, it is inevitable that we all know someone who has been a victim of domestic violence, whether you realize it or not.
These staggering statistics are even more devastating for victims with disabilities. Women with disabilities have a 40% greater chance of experiencing intimate partner violence than women without disabilities. Victims with disabilities face additional forms of abuse and encounter additional barriers when they attempt to leave and seek help. For many victims, when they finally take that very brave, but dangerous step to leave, they are unable to access outside services because of severe isolation, lack of transportation, lack of communication devices and interpretation services, lack of privacy and because of societal attitudes about disabilities.
It is because of these additional barriers facing survivors with disabilities that Community Services for Every1 (CSE1) partnered with the Family Justice Center of Erie County (FJC) to create the HOPE of WNY. The mission of this collaboration is to improve access to domestic violence services and prevention education for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and to ensure that victims with disabilities are identified and linked to the services and supports that will help lead them on their journey toward safety and healing. To fulfill that mission, HOPE of WNY not only provides monthly training to CSE1 and FJC staff to increase the awareness, skills and comfort level of staff to support victims with I/DD, but CSE1 staffs a Casework Empowerment Liaison who provides intensive case management and support to victims with I/DD to ensure they are able to overcome any barriers to safety.
Domestic violence thrives when we remain silent. It’s important that we take a stand and work together to bring an end to the violence. This month especially, raise awareness, connect someone you are concerned about to resources, and spread the word that there is help available for everyone of every ability.
For more information on HOPE of WNY and the Victim Assistance Program or to reach the Casework Empowerment Liaison call 716-949-6678.