Workers at Vera House say they've been keeping track of domestic violence incidents in Central New York for 20 years, and they're always alarmingly high. Now, Senator Charles Schumer says he's supporting federal legislation he hopes will help.
Schumer says a county-by-county report shows there were more than 80,000 domestic abuse incidents in which law enforcement was called to the scene during 2009 and 2010 in Upstate New York.
"It's amazing how much domestic violence there is in Upstate New York," says Schumer. "There were 16,000 reported cases over two years, 2009 and 2010, in Central New York. That's the last years for which we have information, and the numbers are similar in most other places."
Schumer says he's supporting the Violence Against Women Act to help combat the problem. He says current legislation to help fight domestic violence has expired.
The Violence Against Women Act would toughen federal anti-stalking laws and reauthorize a number of federal programs to ensure that police would have the resources and training to crack down on domestic violence crimes.
Loren Cunningham, the Education Director at Vera House, says the legislation is a step in the right direction, especially when it comes to supporting prevention.
"How do we change the culture and change our community standards so that domestic and sexual violence are no longer tolerated or acceptable?" says Cunningham. "The Violence Against Women Act does have funding that supports all those types of work."
Cunningham says many times, domestic violence crimes are not reported, so the statistics may be even higher. She says anyone who needs help can call Vera House's 24-hour crisis and support line at (315) 468-3260.