YORKTOWN, N.Y. – There were 393 domestic incidents reported in Yorktown in 2010, up from 354 in 2008, ranking the town 16th per capita in such cases among 42 Westchester County municipalities.
While more recent statistics are not yet available, Yorktown police Lt. Robert Noble said he does not see a recent strong trend in either direction for domestic violence incidents in the town. He said the department takes domestic violence reports seriously and they are always a top priority.
“We have officers who are trained as domestic violence investigators," he said. "They follow up reports all the time and mostly it’s being able to secure a safe number to check in with the victim. If the victims need any further help we do as much as we can. We’re very proactive with it."
Domestic violence isn't confined to one area of Westchester County; it happens in every town.
Figures from the Westchester County Office for Women show domestic incidents were reported in cities like Yonkers and Mount Vernon and sleepy towns like North Salem. Mount Vernon, per capita, had the highest number of reported cases, followed by New Rochelle, White Plains, Peekskill and Buchanan.
The county Office for Women issues the statistics every two years. Officials said the statistics don't take into account the many rape cases that go unreported.
Nancy Levin, Chief Development Officer at My Sister's Place, says many residents living in Westchester don't have a clear understanding that domestic violence is happening “right in our backyard.”
“It's not a trend or a difference in incidence from year to year. It's a public health issue,” she said.
Approximately one in five women across the nation have been beaten, coerced into sex or involved in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship in their lifetime, according to Jennifer Ryan Safsel. Safsel is director of development and community relations for Hope's Door, a domestic violence shelter in northern Westchester.
“It's a scary thing,” she said. “A day doesn't go by without a news story on violence against women.”
Locally, organizations such as Hope's Door and My Sisters' Place provide counseling, outreach programs and emergency support to victims of domestic violence. Hope's Door provides a 24-hour, confidential emergency hotline at 888-438-8700. They also help teenagers recognize the warning signs of an abusive relationship - something that's especially important because a growing number of women are affected, Safsel said.
Levin notes that it's an issue across the board. “Whether you are living in a housing project or an affluent community, domestic violence reaches across gender, race and socioeconomic status,” Levin said. “We are trying to change the way society thinks about intimate partner abuse and the culture that allows for it.”