The Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence and many of its partnering organizations hosted an open, virtual town hall for Bronx survivors of domestic abuse on Aug. 6.
Its primary focus was creating a safe, open environment to discuss self care methods and coping with the pandemic and recent global unrest through a series of speakers who were each effected by domestic violence in their lives.
One speaker said that the protests over George Floyd’s wrongful death and hearing the phrase “I can’t breathe” had mentally brought her back to when she was being grabbed by the neck from her own attacker, as she had said the phrase many times in desperation as well.
“It came back to me, I remembered when I couldn’t breathe,” said the woman, whose name the Bronx Times is withholding to keep her identity anonymous.
That speaker also called on the formation of a pro bono therapist group to be on call for triggering scenarios such as hers.
Emotional safety was also discussed as one speaker talked about literally redoing her apartment with a relaxation space in addition to joining prayer groups and keep a reflection journal.
“One thing I’ve noticed a lot of us have a hard time with is we take blame,” the speaker said. She also discussed accountability and not blaming one’s self for how scenarios unraveled in harmful situations.
Another speaker who lived in supportive housing discussed how the Coronavirus pandemic effected and ultimately limited services given to survivors of domestic abuse in her facility.
Specifically, support groups had been put on hold along with a lack of access to behavioral health counselors who are usually on a 24/7 standby.
Additionally, she said many tenants that were unable to leave their residences couldn’t access a free meal program within the supportive housing.
Furthermore, that same speaker noted it is especially important for survivors of domestic abuse to have a permanent residence for not only mental health reasons, but also for safety and security.
Other advocates in support of domestic violence victims also discussed support programs and hotlines that had remained active throughout the pandemic, also addressing the issue of permanent housing and how difficult it has been to secure it for those in need over the past months.
Some also questioned as to why there is a different criteria for domestic violence shelters as there is for homeless shelters, which experts this is a matter of funding differences done at both a city and a state level.
It was also explained that domestic violence shelters are more focused towards safety, while homeless shelters are intended more for residential services.
The legality aspect of domestic violence was also discussed as advocates told of ways that victims are often manipulated into crime and addictions, adding that new methods should be put in place to protect those who were victimized from a legal standpoint.
Editor’s note: In confidentiality, The Bronx Times Reporter has kept the identity of those who spoke at the meeting anonymous.