Bronx Chamber holds 5th annual domestic violence awareness luncheon

Putting an end to domestic violence isn’t just about being safe at home. It is about being safe on the job too.

The Bronx Chamber of Commerce held its 5th annual luncheon and information panel to increase awareness about domestic violence at the Pelham Bay Split Rock Golf Course’s clubhouse at 870 Shore Road on Wednesday, October 27. Sponsoring the event was the not only the Chamber, but also Verizon Wireless, which has had initiatives to fight domestic violence since the mid-1990s.

The event featured a full panel of speakers who shed light on how businesses and the general public can work to break the silence that surrounds the issue of domestic violence, which often leads to violent crime. According to organizers, providing education and raising awareness are the key components to cultivating support for survivors.

“Today’s luncheon will place emphasis on the need for community involvement and on what efforts we can take to reduce domestic violence through public education, increased community support of agencies, and providing domestic violence crisis services,” said Lenny Caro, president and CEO of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce.

Caro said in his opening remarks that he once witnessed an incident where a woman tried to jump out of a moving car to flee her partner, only to be pulled back into the car by her hair.

Caro called 911 and was told to follow the vehicle until state troopers arrived. Because of his and others’ efforts, police later made an arrest of the man driving the vehicle, who was allegedly abusing his spouse.

Speakers at the luncheon included David Samberg, Verizon Wireless public relations manager; April Horton, director of external affairs and government affairs; Liz Gonzalez, general assignment reporter for Telemundo New York Channel 47; Belinda Simmons, deputy director of the Bronx Community Service Center, New York City Commission on Human Rights; and Rachelle Abrahami, executive director of the Bronx Family Justice Center, which helps women and children who are victims of domestic violence at 198 E. 161st Street. Commissioner Yolanda Jimenez of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence also attended, and she spoke of raising awareness during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Jimenez said that some business owners and managers are not aware that they have responsibilities to their employees in terms of protecting them from domestic violence. This includes providing security guards with photos of husbands or boyfriends if there is an order of protection in place, or working to catalog instances where an employee may be receiving harassing phone calls from a spouse. Jimenez said that with 50% of the workforce made up of women, increased steps must be taken to ensure their safety in the work place.

“This particular event is targeted at the business community,” Jimenez said. “We are letting them know that domestic violence in the workplace is a real issue.”

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