Good evening, and welcome to City Hall. I am honored to join you to remember the lives of women who were killed in terrible acts of domestic violence.
These life-size red figures are poignant reminders of the women we mourn this evening. Each one of these figures represents a separate tragedy that we remember.
And while we reflect on these tragedies, let us also remember the children who have had to witness domestic violence as a part of their daily lives. These children learn to fear going home, or are often too afraid to sleep, and consequently too tired to learn in school.
The children of violent families frequently wind up as the violent criminals we fear for, as we know all too well, children live what they learn.
Family violence has a devastating impact on all of us....
When I ran for Mayor I vowed to stop that cycle. During the past two and a half years, I have put the fight against domestic violence high on my administration's agenda.
Over the last two years, we have seen unprecedented drops in serious crime in New York City. Combatting family violence has been an important part of our strategy.
Therefore, we have strengthened police response to domestic violence. We have instituted a "must arrest" policy and have implemented recording and tracking systems.
It is simply no longer an option for an officer responding to a domestic dispute call to do nothing.
Officers are held accountable. And there are dedicated domestic violence officers and detectives in every precinct to work with victims and investigate batterers.
And in a time of unprecedented fiscal constraints, we have increased domestic violence shelter bed capacity by nearly 40 percent. We welcomed two new domestic violence shelters this past summer. We have added this shelter space because we want to make certain that women have more safe places to go.
But I have always said that it is terribly wrong that battered women had had no choice except to flee. For women in New York City, that is no longer the case.
For example, in Upper Manhattan, we are piloting an "alternative to shelter program." This gives participants the opportunity to remain in their own homes and communities...to put the pieces of their lives back together with integrity and without fear.
We are also bolstering non-residential services to extend a helping hand to women in their own communities and provide the support they need to break the cycle of abuse in their lives.
We are proud to be working hand in hand with the private sector to increase battered women's access to pro bono legal services, and to promote employment opportunities for battered women seeking independence from their batterers.
And we've sent the message city-wide through our public education campaign that domestic violence devastates New Yorkers, unleashing a cycle of violence, and that battering is a crime that will not be tolerated.
In addition, this past may we hosted the first "Mayor's Domestic Violence Colloquium" that drew a wide array of high-ranking officials from the city's public and private sectors to confront our concerns and clarify our goals.
So, during the past two and a half years, we have done more than any other city in the nation to combat family violence. And yet we have really just begun to scratch the surface.
Until very recently domestic violence was a hidden crime. It was the terror kept behind closed doors, and regarded as a private matter. It was a situation where neighbors averted their eyes and our criminals justice system usually inflicted a mere slap on the wrist.
Everything that we can do today to stop domestic violence will help to make our city safer and healthier for New Yorkers in the future. That is what we all want, for ourselves and for our children.
What we in government can do to combat family violence is only part of the solution. What each of you can do as individuals creates the real change for battered women in our society.
If all women victimized by domestic violence in 1993 joined hands, the line would stretch from New York City to Los Angeles and beyond. In New York State alone, the FBI estimates that one person is victimized by physical violence in the home every three minutes, 20 every hour, 432 every day and 157, 680 every year. According to the FBI, four women in New York State are killed each week as a result of domestic violence.
We must work together to combat domestic violence and that's why I'm so proud to be hosting the largest domestic violence rally in New York State's history.