Palumbo Joins Colleagues to Fight Domestic Violence in Albany

A Legislative Column from Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R,C,I,Ref-New Suffolk)
February 20, 2018

Over the summer the Assembly Minority Task Force on Preventing Domestic Violence traveled the state holding forums with law enforcement, victims, advocates and legislators to combat domestic violence in our communities. Recently, our task force released a report containing suggestions and proposed legislation to combat this pervasive problem.

As a former prosecutor, I have seen the results of domestic violence on the front lines. It takes great courage for a victim to come forward, and once a complaint is made, many victims’ lives change in profound and unexpected ways. Their families are completely uprooted. We must acknowledge their struggles and make the necessary changes to protect victims during this critical time of need. We’ve crafted legislation to enhance protections and make their transition out of a toxic environment easier and safer.

We found that declaring domestic violence a statewide public health crisis is a necessary first step to combating this problem. We see domestic violence all over the state, and it’s not isolated to any particular region, so it must be addressed as a statewide problem. It’s about raising awareness and erasing the stigma of coming forward. It’s important to also recognize that spouses are often not the only victims in a domestic violence case; children suffer too while living in an abusive household. As such, we have proposed legislation to make domestic violence in the presence of a child an aggravating factor to increase the level of offense.

To insure a smooth transition from a violent household, coordination between law enforcement, prosecutors and administrators is vital. We are proposing a state-funded training system that would do just that. The goal is to provide seamless assistance to victims by gaining a greater understanding of their personal dynamics when they finally separate from the violence. We must understand that each case is different and every situation requires unique assistance.

Finally, we found that providing the necessary funds to help victims transition out of the home is often the only way they will have the courage to leave. The reliance upon the abuser for financial support to the family must be removed from the equation, so leaving an abusive spouse will not result in financial devastation. This is often a main reason why victims don’t leave. Consequently, we propose a fund to help negate cost of living expenses for victims and to allocate new funding to help defray attorney’s fees.

With budget negotiations picking up in the coming months, I hope to see this legislation gain some traction. This is a nonpartisan issue, and I truly hope the governor and all of my colleagues in the Legislature will review our report carefully and join us in taking decisive action against this serious public health crisis.