In 1981, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence designated a day for unity and solidarity for battered women. That evolved into Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is observed across the county in October. Carolyn Fish, executive director of the Center for Safety & Change in New City, said it is really a campaign to raise awareness.
Fish explained the purpose of the month-long campaign is to remind people to think about battered women and what they can do to help end domestic violence, how they can support those who are being abused and remember the victims who were murdered.
Fish’s remarks came at a ceremony on Thursday officially changing the name of the Rockland Family Shelter to Center For Safety & Change. The agency began 34 years ago providing shelter and services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse and over the years expanded to offer programs for victims of all crimes in the county.
Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said, “We declare this month on behalf of not just those who come to the center for help but we declare this Domestic Violence (Awareness) Month for those who should come to the center for the prevention of the violence. When they come here, the harm has occurred. The biggest job we have in Rockland County is the prevention of the harm to begin with.”
Fish said the Center For Safety & Change planned a series of events including its 33rd Annual Harvest Auction of goods and services on October 21 from 4 to 9 p.m. at the New York Country Club in Spring Valley. Admission costs $90 to the program, which includes guest Auctioneer Lorraine Bracco and a silent auction, buffet dinner, live auction and dessert. On October 23 Student Activists Ending Dating Abuse (SAEDA) will hold a conference on teen dating violence prevention and a presentation to school students by a mother whose daughter was murdered by her boyfriend.
“These are all activities to help generate interest, thought and support about how we’re going to end violence against women and children,” Fish said.
Vanderhoef said county office buildings would be illuminated in purple for the month.
Fish announced that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill increasing the length of time domestic violence victims can stay at an emergency shelter. The current law allows survivors to stay for 90 days with a 40-day extension. The change permits victims to stay in the shelter for up to 180 days. Fish said the new legislation would help “keep people safe.”