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Contact: Suzanne Cecala, Press Office                               
NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
(518) 457-5744 or suzanne.cecala@opdv.ny.gov


Janine Kava, Press Office
NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services/Crime Victims Board
(518) 457-8906 – work
(518) 275-5508 – cell 

For immediate release: April 30, 2009

“Finding Safety and Support” guide now available in five languages

A comprehensive resource guide designed to help domestic violence victims navigate the criminal justice system in New York State and learn ways to enhance their safety is now available in five languages.

Published by the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV), “Finding Safety and Support” had previously only been printed in English and Spanish. It is now available in Russian, Chinese and Arabic, both in print and on CD-ROM.

OPDV Executive Director Amy Barasch and Tina M. Stanford, chairwoman of the New York State Crime Victims Board, announced the availability of the multilingual publication during a Crime Victims’ Rights Week visit to the YWCA of the Mohawk Valley in Utica. Ms. Barasch and Ms. Stanford also highlighted the partnerships in Oneida County among victims’ assistance professionals, community organizations and law enforcement to combat domestic violence and assist its victims.
“Domestic violence is a difficult crime to discuss and disclose in any language, and it is particularly difficult for victims in New York State who are not fluent in English,” Ms. Barasch said. “With this resource guide we hope to reach victims who are doubly isolated, by their victimization as well as their limited English, and to provide them with helpful information, show them that this administration is committed to fighting domestic violence in every community and guide them to available resources.”

Governor David A. Paterson has proclaimed the week of April 26 as Crime Victims' Rights Week in New York State. 

Crime Victims' Rights Week, which has been recognized nationally since 1981, is designed to call attention to the life-changing impact crime has on victims and their loved ones, to highlight services available to assist crime victims and to reinforce the message that victims' voices need to be heard throughout the criminal justice system.

“The Crime Victims Board is pleased to partner with the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to highlight the important work being done throughout Oneida County to combat domestic violence and provide crucial support services to victims,” Ms. Stanford said. “The board and its entire staff are committed to doing everything possible to support those efforts and ensure that all victims of crime get the assistance they need to rebuild their lives.”

The Crime Victims Board provides more than $250,000 to the YWCA of the Mohawk Valley so it can serve domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Nearly 200 victims’ assistance programs throughout New York State are funded by the board; those programs received grants totaling more than $29 million during the 2007-08 fiscal year.

“The lack of culturally sensitive and appropriate services for victims who are non-English speaking pose additional life-threatening barriers to leaving violent relationships,” said Linda Czerkies, executive director of the YWCA of the Mohawk Valley. “Thanks to collaborations with the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees and the Multicultural Association of Medical Interpreters, we are breaking down language barriers to provide all victims of domestic violence with access to the intervention services they need.”

The Resource Center has applied, in partnership with the YWCA, for a grant that would provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services around domestic violence issues for limited English proficient (LEP) populations in the Mohawk Valley. The main goals of the grant include educating the criminal justice community about cultural barriers, educating the LEP populations about the resources and services that are available, and strengthening the relationship between the refugee/immigrant community, social services and criminal justice communities.

“Language support will be a key component of the program,” said Shelly Callahan, director of programs and services at the Center. “MVRCR looks forward to a continued partnership with the YWCA and local law enforcement in helping to facilitate LEP populations’ access to community services.” 

The YWCA also works collaboratively with the Multicultural Association of Medical Interpreters (MAMI) regarding training staff interpreters on the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence. The YWCA has a contract with MAMI for interpreters for victims of domestic and sexual violence and MAMI is a member of the Oneida County Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Coalition.

Cornelia Brown, director of the Multicultural Association of Medical Interpreters (MAMI) said: "Highly skilled interpreters help non-English speaking domestic and sexual violence survivors find their voice again."

“Finding Safety and Support,” which was first published by OPDV in 1996, has continually been updated and was recently redesigned. Nearly a million copies of the guide have been printed and downloaded.

The languages were selected based on information from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance, which indicated that English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic are the top five languages spoken in New York State. 

OPDV offers several other publications, including posters and brochures, in multiple languages. All publications are free of charge and can be ordered by visiting the OPDV website: www.opdv.ny.gov. Follow the link for “publications.”  

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is a state agency charged with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to Executive level staff on policy and legislation; conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs; and trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement, local district social service providers, and health care professionals.

Established in 1966, the Crime Victims Board’s mission is to “provide compensation to innocent victims of crime in a timely, efficient and compassionate manner; to fund direct services to crime victims via a network of community-based programs; and to advocate for the rights and benefits of all innocent victims of crime.” For more information about the Crime Victims Board, eligibility requirements and a list of victims' assistance programs throughout New York State, visit www.ovs.ny.gov.