domestic violence


With reports of domestic violence in New York state up 30% in April compared to a year ago, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, there are new ways to help connect victims with the help they need.

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence has launched text and chat services.

Kelli Owens, executive director of the office, said victims are even more at risk when they are isolated at home during this coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic is having an effect on the number of calls made to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Hotline staff report that a growing number of callers say abusers are using COVID-19 as a reason to further isolate victims. Locally, calls to Willow Domestic Violence Center have increased, with victims looking for advice for how to adapt their safety plans. The center has ramped up phone counseling services and is working to address a possible increase for shelter services. Advocates for children are also expressing concerns about how physical distancing could impact children who live in abusive homes. 

This hour, our guests discuss how to help victims of all ages. Our guests:

Brenda Cohen



Calls to Willow’s domestic violence hotline spiked on Friday and again on Monday. Over 40 calls came in Monday. That’s more than double the usual rate.

Meaghan de Chateauvieux with Willow Domestic Violence Center says she believes there is a strong correlation between those calls and concerns of having to stay home. 

She says her team is working to adjust to new demands to help survivors of domestic abuse amid concerns of a pandemic.

Willow Domestic Violence Center is marking 40 years of serving local families. We're joined by representatives from the Center who discuss Willow's and Monroe County's role in protecting survivors and helping them heal. We also talk about why rates of domestic violence are high -- is it due to greater awareness, better reporting, or a higher prevalence? Our guests share their data.

In studio:

  • Meaghan de Chateauvieux, president and CEO of Willow Domestic Violence Center
  • Phyllis Korn, founder of Alternatives for Battered Women, now Willow Domestic Violence Center 
  • Vincent Butler, social worker who worked with Alternatives for Battered Women, and founder of the organization's MEN's Program

Willow Domestic Violence Center has won a grant -- one of only two in the state -- to establish a fellowship aimed at improving the services it provides for survivors.

The $150,000, two-year grant will cover the salary of a fellow who will be embedded in the Willow organization, looking for any unforeseen gaps in the way programs and services are carried out.

freeimages.com/Jenny W.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act into law.

It allows judges to consider the trauma of domestic abuse when sentencing people who have killed or hurt their alleged abusers in self-defense.

We sit down with a woman who wrote a book about how she survived her husband's attack during the summer of 2012. 

Jerri Lynn Sparks was the press secretary for former Congressman Eric Massa. Her book, "Surviving Madmen," details domestic violence, as well as the sexism she says she experienced in her job. 

Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt is speaking out about a video that caught him getting into a physical altercation with a woman. Hunt says he was embarrassed by the video and hoped to be given another chance in the NFL after he was released from the Chiefs.

Was firing him the right move? Some critics say releasing him won't help his potential rehabilitation, and it was bad for both Hunt and the victim. Should rehabilitation have been part of the team's decision-making?

We discuss these questions with local domestic violence prevention experts. In studio:

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed into law in 1994 with bipartisan support. Co-authored by the late Louise Slaughter, it provides a national response to crimes like domestic violence, sexual assault, and dating violence.

The law was reauthorized for a number of years without issue, until recently, when Democrats and Republicans began to disagree about different aspects of the act. Now, the VAWA is set to expire unless lawmakers act quickly. Democrats wants to expand the definition of domestic violence, while some Republicans say the proposed expansions are too broad.

We hear from the two candidates running for former Rep. Slaughter's seat, and we discuss what the act covers, the impact of its possible expiration, and current gaps in training and services for domestic violence victims. Our guests:

  • Meaghan de Chateauvieux, director of development and marketing for Willow Domestic Violence Center
  • Allison O'Malley, chief executive officer of RESOLVE
  • Dr. Jim Maxwell (R), candidate for the 25th Congressional District seat
  • Assemblyman Joe Morelle (D), candidate for the 25th Congressional District seat

In her book, “I Married a Sociopath,” writer and epidemiologist Sabrina Brown details decades of physical, verbal, and financial abuse by her ex-husband. Brown began blogging about being a domestic violence survivor in 2012 as a way to spark conversations about intimate partner violence, which often isn’t reported or acknowledged.

Brown is in Rochester as the keynote speaker for RESTORE Sexual Assault Service’s first-ever regional conference, but first, she joins us on Connections to share her story and to discuss how to help victims of domestic violence. Our guests:

  • Sabrina Brown, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Kentucky, and author of “I Married a Sociopath”
  • Lauren Berger, outreach and education specialist for RESTORE