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Helping Women Out of Hazardous Relationships

June 2008

Helping Women Out of Hazardous Relationships

Physical and emotional abuse in the home and in relationships continues to be a serious problem in New York—in fact, 123,000 calls were received by the City's domestic violence hotline in 2007.

Poor women, immigrants, and young mothers feel especially trapped in abusive relationships because they rely on their batterers for money, housing, or both. Immigrant women are also intimidated because of their uncertain legal status. The younger the victim, the more assistance they need. For instance, young mothers who have dropped out of school to raise their kids, or have no work history, are particularly likely to stay with an abuser.

Unfortunately, teens and younger women are increasingly subject to dating violence and abusive relationships: In 2007, the City's hotline received nearly 17,000 calls from teens, almost twice as many as in the previous year. Although there are resources and laws to protect these battered women, many survivors need free legal help not only to safeguard them from abuse, but also to get spousal and child support, public benefits, and protection from eviction.

In 2008, The Trust made $60,000 grants each, to Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A and Legal Services NYC's Staten Island office to expand two projects that help young women and girls leave abusive relationships. The first grant expanded Brooklyn Legal Service's Victim's Support Unit, helping 58 women and their families. The Unit also conducted workshops on family law, safety and confidentiality, and public benefits for the staff and clients of the North Brooklyn Coalition and other community and support groups.

On Staten Island, our grant expanded the Young Women's Empowerment Project, which provided legal help to 80 young and immigrant survivors of abuse in 2008. The program also reached out to 150 young women and girls on Staten Island, particularly immigrants, to inform them about freeing themselves from their abusers.  It held workshops at St. John's University, Wagner College, the Latin American Integration Center, and El Centro de Hospitalidad. In addition, materials in English and Spanish were created and distributed to social service agencies, health and mental health providers, local libraries, and YWCA branches.

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