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Domestic violence advocacy groups get a boost from state funds

Avery Schneider

Domestic violence advocacy groups are getting a financial boost by way of grants from the State of New York.

$50,000 from the state’s public protection fund is being split between Buffalo-based Crisis Services and the Family Justice Center of Erie County. The additional funds will help each organization expand outreach for the services they already provide.

For the Family Justice Center, it means 10,000 new “Red Flags” brochures on the warning signs of domestic violence. FJC Executive Director Mary Travers-Murphy said the wallet-sized brochures can be distributed anywhere in the public.

“I think we’re tripping over the red flags every time there’s a domestic violence homicide. People see it, they didn’t realize that they could add up to putting somebody in the hospital or, god-forbid, the cemetery,” explained Travers-Murphy.

The funds will also help continue what former domestic violence victim Clarissa called FJC’s ‘one-stop shop’ of tools and resources.

“You can basically go in there and get everything you need to get done in order to resolve the matter quickly and efficiently,” said Clarissa. “And they never force you to make a decision on how you want to move forward. They never force you to judge the person that is the abuser, but they do give you the tools and the resources necessary in order to make the best decision for yourself.”

Crisis Services Executive Director Jessica Pirro said her organization’s grant will directly support a program of placing domestic and sexual violence advocates on college campuses.

“Over the last two years, this effort has grown significantly, for a lot of the colleges to commit and be a partner with Crisis Services in having our advocates on the college campuses to provide support for students as well as for faculty who are dealing with domestic violence [and] sexual assault issues,” said Pirro.

The impact of that program has already taken hold, as Pirro illustrated by reading a letter from a student victim. In it, the student wrote, “They offered me life-changing opportunities that included relocating me, speaking on behalf to my professors at the university who helped with special accommodations for my coursework, as well as encouraging me every single day to not give up. And to know that I’m no longer a victim, that I am a survivor.”

The campus advocate program is currently operating in seven locations, with plans to expand already in the works.

The two $25,000 grants were secured by State Senator Chris Jacobs, marking the tail end of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.