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For immediate release: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013
New York State creates video, PSA designed to raise awareness of domestic violence and encourage friends, family members to reach out to victims
Video, PSA urge “Don’t Do Nothing” if someone you know is in an abusive relationship
The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) today unveiled a new public service announcement, featuring musician Natalie Merchant, and a video aimed at raising awareness about domestic violence and educating New Yorkers about the ways in which they can help someone who they believe may be involved in an abusive relationship.
OPDV Executive Director Gwen Wright said, “The message conveyed by both the video and PSA is simple: ‘Don’t Do Nothing.’ If you think someone you know may be the victim of domestic violence, let them know that you are there for them, and that there are resources available to help, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, education or background. We are contacted regularly by constituents and professionals who are looking for a tool to help start the conversation about domestic violence, so this video fills a void in the community.”
A native New Yorker who lives in the Hudson Valley, Ms. Merchant joined with Ms. Wright; Elizabeth Cronin, director of the state Office of Victim Services; and local domestic violence and crime victims’ advocates in Albany to unveil the PSA and video. More than 50 advocates, elected officials and law enforcement professionals attended the PSA/video screening, which was held at The Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio.
Ms. Merchant agreed to film the PSA, which is available in 30-second and 60-second lengths, after meeting Ms. Wright at a fund-raising event for domestic violence programs in the Kingston area, where she lives. The singer/songwriter has been active in raising awareness about the issue in her community.
“I was always aware of the crime of domestic violence. It was not until I heard of the story of a woman from my own town who was killed by her intimate partner that I was moved to speak out and take action,” Ms. Merchant said. “We need to send a strong message to families dealing with the trauma of domestic violence that there is help, from hotlines and shelters, from sympathetic police officers and teachers and others who will listen to the accounts of abuse and act in a victim’s defense. The first step to living a life free of violence and fear in your own home is stepping out of the shadows of shame and denial and asking for help.”
In addition to featuring Ms. Merchant, the PSA includes clips from the 25-minute video, titled “Finding Safety and Support: The Video,” developed by OPDV and produced by the state’s Media Services Center.
The video is divided into three segments: identifying abuse, planning for safety and getting involved. The video is appropriate for any audience; it details the signs of domestic violence and provides ideas, suggestions and model behaviors so individuals can broach the subject with a friend or a loved one who may be involved in an abusive relationship, and let them know that help is available.
Each segment is built around a scenario involving a victim that the audience doesn’t see. The victim’s story is told by her sister, as the sister tries to determine the best way to help her loved one get out of a difficult and abusive relationship.
The video and PSA also highlight the availability of New York State’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-6906. The multi-language hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide assistance to victims.
New York is the only state in the nation to have an executive-level agency that has the sole mission of fighting and preventing domestic violence. OPDV plans to make the video available to 186 victims’ assistance programs that are funded by the Office of Victim Services (OVS), in addition to the more than 100 residential and non-residential programs licensed by the state’s Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) that serve domestic violence victims and their families, and any other organizations that request it.
OVS Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “Since its inception, OVS has recognized the serious consequences of domestic violence and has supported the mission of domestic violence awareness and prevention. Part of a successful campaign to prevent domestic violence is to make sure people understand what it is, how they can help and what resources are available; having tools such as the video is invaluable.”
The video and PSA also are posted to YouTube and will be shared via OPDV’s Facebook page and Twitter handle.
The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is charged with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to Executive 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 and health care.
The Office of Victim Services provides a safety net for innocent crime victims who have no other place to turn for help, providing direct compensation for counseling, advocacy services and medical care, for example, in addition to funding 186 victims’ assistance programs across the state. The agency operates at no cost to taxpayers; it is funded by fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain offenders after conviction in state or federal court.-30-