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City Hall, NYPD Announce Slate of Policies to Reduce Barriers to Safety Faced by Victims of Domestic Violence

October 26, 2016

De Blasio Administration protecting survivors’ rights, safety, paychecks and housing

Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Ferreras-Copeland introduce legislation to provide Paid Safe Leave for domestic violence victims

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray today announced a package of policies to protect domestic violence survivors, their livelihoods and their homes. Together with Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Mayor de Blasio will protect survivors and their families by introducing Paid Safe Leave legislation, which will allow survivors to take paid leave from work to attend to immediate safety needs without fear of penalty. The City will also put housing lawyers in every Family Justice Center to aggressively defend survivors’ housing rights, and work with the NYPD to root out chronic offenders by instituting new practices to ensure law enforcement targets resources on the highest priority abusers and contacts every victim to ensure safety after an Order of Protection has been violated.

“Domestic violence is a public safety menace in every neighborhood, affecting every population, and it’s by confronting domestic violence that we will end the vicious cycle that perpetuates it,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are sending a loud and clear message – we will not tolerate domestic violence, survivors have the City’s full support, and abusers must be held accountable. In the 21st century in the greatest city on earth, those who have already suffered at the hands of those they love should never have to choose between their safety and a paycheck or their home.”

“Every day the NYPD gets roughly 800 domestic violence calls from every social and economic class and from all over the city,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, co-Chair of the Commission on Gender Equity. “Domestic violence is disturbingly common, and almost every one of us knows someone who has lived in fear of physical or emotional violence. It is time for us to come together as New Yorkers, protect the rights of victims and hold those who abuse others accountable. A safe city means a city that is safe for everyone – women, children and men.”

Across the country, jurisdictions have struggled to effectively reduce rates of domestic violence. In New York City, where crime is at historic lows, domestic violence persists. The de Blasio Administration is taking a new, interagency approach to break down silos in social service agencies and law enforcement to ensure that victims of domestic violence and their children are given the tools they need to seek safety from abuse.

To fight domestic violence, the City is protecting the paychecks, safety, housing and rights of survivors, as well as instituting new practices to ensure law enforcement is triaging domestic violence cases with the most sophisticated and effective approaches:

Protecting survivors' paychecks

No New Yorker should ever stay in a dangerous situation because they fear missing paid work to address safety needs, or face loss of income for recovering from abuse. Yet, victims of intimate partner violence across the US report an average of 7.2 days of work-related lost productivity per year. 


In 2014, Mayor de Blasio signed legislation expanding Paid Sick Leave to half a million more New Yorkers, ensuring that employees who work in NYC for more than 80 hours a year can earn up to 40 hours of sick leave each year to care for themselves or a family member. Together with Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, the Mayor will protect survivors and their families by introducing Paid Safe Leave legislation, which will allow survivors to take paid leave from work to attend to immediate safety needs without fear of penalty.

Protecting survivors' housing

No survivor should ever lose their housing because of an abuser. If a person has been abused, we guarantee them a lawyer to help protect their rights and their housing.

Beginning immediately, the City will protect housing for survivors and their families by placing housing lawyers in Family Justice Centers – the City’s comprehensive resource and support centers for victims of domestic violence – in every borough to vigorously pursue every available option under law, including fighting to get the abuser off the lease, restricting an abuser's access to a survivor's home, transferring a lease from an abuser to a survivor, or end a lease without penalty if the survivor wants to move. 311, advocates and the NYPD will refer survivors to the City’s Family Justice Centers and proactively mention housing as part of its script of resources.

Protecting survivors from repeat abuse

Every abuser should know that New York City takes abuse seriously and is prioritizing quick, effective enforcement. Every victim should know that the NYPD is here to help.

Beginning immediately, the NYPD will use a new prioritization tool to track chronic abuse to ensure that officers are targeting enforcement resources toward apprehending the riskiest abusers first. And in cases where an offender violates an Order of Protection, the NYPD will also reach out to victims to connect them to safety supports. In every domestic violence case, NYPD will use precision policing to identify and target chronic domestic violence offenders.

“We remain committed to using precision policing to reduce domestic violence as we have used it to address other crime,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “We take domestic violence seriously and will continue working within the department and across this city to prevent these types of crimes.”

Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner Cecile Noel said, "Mayor de Blasio's announcement today is a loud and clear statement to all survivors of domestic violence in New York City: We stand with you and for you. Your job, your home, and your well-being should never have to be bargained in exchange for your safety. By providing options to survivors and holding offenders accountable, this Administration is once again proving its commitment to survivors and their families."

Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice said, "Domestic violence is a crime, and one that New York City takes seriously. Today we take the next step to use the tools we have developed in precision policing to target chronic abusers. Today's announcement also importantly knits together social services and law enforcement to ensure that we are creating as many pathways to safety as possible. This intense focus on driving down domestic violence is how we will continue to drive not just violent crime, but all types of crime, to historic lows."

"This bill is another important step to safety and security for all New Yorkers. The ability to access much needed services, like those from domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers,  is critical for survivors of gender-related violence," said Azadeh Khalili, Executive Director of the Commission on Gender Equity.  "Survivors of gender-related violence should not have to decide between life-saving services and putting food on the table. We will not stop our efforts until society has zero tolerance for domestic violence and every woman and girl and LGBT individual has access to services, and is safe at home and in public."

Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks said, "Domestic violence has been one of the primary drivers of homelessness in New York City for many years. As we continue to increase support for victims of domestic violence in shelter, today's announcement moves us forward in keeping New York families in their homes and helping survivors to move forward.”

Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland said, “No victim of domestic violence should question whether she can afford to do what she needs to keep herself safe. That is why we will be introducing legislation to expand the paid sick leave law. Domestic violence victims ‎need to move forward and stay safe. I believe supporting them and ensuring they can still receive pay while visiting lawyers or support services is the right thing to do, and I thank Mayor de Blasio for his partnership on this proposal.”

“Victims of domestic violence should never be at risk of losing their home or salary because they are trying to protect themselves and their family,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Too often, victims of domestic violence are doubly victimized - forced to miss days of work or driven out of their homes to escape repeated violence. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for implementing these new measures that will help all New Yorkers get the support they need to feel safe and secure.”

Borough President Eric Adams said, “Combating domestic violence is a very personal imperative for me and for the thousands of Brooklynites who have been directly impacted by abuse, many of whom are suffering in silence. Our mission must be to strive beyond surviving for those touched by domestic violence; survivors must be thriving. Mayor de Blasio and his administration have been committed to partnering on efforts that not only further the safety of this underserved population, but also protect their homes and livelihoods. Our borough will be undaunted in advancing itself forward as a safer place for everyone to raise healthy children and families.”

“Domestic violence is a scourge on our society, and to end it we must ensure there is always a clear pathway to safety for victims and survivors,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Paid Safe Leave and the other initiatives being announced today are important steps to help survivors break the cycle. Whenever an individual doesn’t have the freedom to leave an abusive situation, we have failed.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said, “Despite the fact that New York is the safest big city in the country, far too many New Yorkers live in fear in their own homes. From our prosecutors’ work in the Manhattan Family Justice Center, to initiatives to help survivors access the services they need, we are doing everything in our power to combat this pervasive crime – but we cannot fight this battle alone. The City’s commitment to victims of domestic violence underscores the necessity of cross-sector collaborations that bring together City agencies, law enforcement, service providers, and advocates in a united front. I look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with all of our partners on this crucial public safety issue.”

“As Staten Island and other parts of the city experience a rise in domestic violence, it remains vital that we have the necessary resources and services in place to address the urgent needs of crime victims. My office has already taken several steps to fight on behalf of domestic violence victims so that they do not have to suffer in silence, and I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence for continuing to support our efforts with these new initiatives,” said Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “I commend Mayor de Blasio’s new initiatives to protect survivors of domestic violence. He was instrumental in helping my Office establish the City’s first Domestic Violence Complaint Room, so that victims can meet our Assistant District Attorneys in a more comfortable atmosphere and close to necessary services. It is located in the District Attorney’s Office adjacent to the Family Justice Center, and close to our Crime Victims Assistance Unit, so that survivors of abuse can learn immediately about Paid Safe Leave, housing, child care, and other vital services. This is a perfect example of law enforcement and social service agencies erasing boundaries and working hand-in-hand to assist in cases of domestic violence.” 

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “I applaud the Mayor’s innovative initiatives which will go a long way in helping victims of domestic violence and will make it easier for them to pursue criminal prosecutions of their abusers. This new set of tools are welcome additions to my office’s comprehensive approach to fighting domestic violence, which include our Family Justice Center and ongoing educational campaigns to raise awareness.”

“Too often, victims of domestic violence are forced to stay in dangerous situations because they are further threatened by homelessness, financial instability and retribution from their abusers if they try to find help. This must change,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “We can empower victims of abuse by ensuring they have the opportunity and the means to escape without sacrificing a roof over their heads and food on their tables. This starts with the City’s actions announced today that will protect survivors’ wellbeing without compromising their employment or housing, and make the NYPD more effective at responding to and reducing domestic violence incidents. I am proud that New York is once again leading the way on policies to create a safer community.”

“Domestic violence and intimate partner violence survivors need greater protection and support, particularly in housing, finances, and safety,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “As a long-time advocate in the Senate for enhanced DV/IPV protections, I thank the City and Council Member Ferreras-Copeland for continued progress on this important issue.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, "New York City enjoys a well-earned reputation as America's safest big city, but we've also seen domestic violence more than double as a share of homicides. While Albany has made some progress on this issue, there is much more left to do to protect survivors of domestic abuse. As we continue fighting to enact strong protections for families at the state level, I'm grateful to Mayor de Blasio for his efforts to build a safer city for survivors of these heinous crimes."

"Domestic violence is a scourge that has persisted for too long in our society. Abusers, and their victims, come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s vital that we make help available and encourage people to come out of the shadows. I commend Mayor de Blasio and his administration for continuing to explore new ways to effectively protect survivors of domestic violence," said State Senator Liz Krueger.

“The scourge of domestic violence continues to plague the lives of too many New Yorkers,” said Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, Chair of the New York State Assembly’s Task Force on Women’s Issues. “As the author of legislation to protect the jobs of domestic violence victims, I understand that financial abuse is a significant part of the continuing cycle of abuse. These crimes affect every aspect of a victim’s life, from personal safety to housing to work. I applaud this effort to prevent ongoing domestic violence and ensure survivors can stay in their jobs and keep a roof over their families’ heads.”

“I’m happy to hear that Mayor de Blasio is addressing violent crime related to domestic violence. Our city needs to better protect victims from their abusers. Three initiatives that can be implemented immediately should make a big dent in addressing these problems and help some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon.

"No one – no one – should feel captive in an abusive relationship. I applaud any and all steps that Mayor de Blasio and his administration can take to help and support battered partners and end this scourge. This new initiative will go a long way toward that end,” said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio for taking these important steps to fight domestic violence. I am confident that lives will be saved and the lives of many survivors will be much improved thanks to these new efforts. We must always stand strong on behalf of the victims of domestic violence and all crime victims,” said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz.

Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez said, “Nothing is more tragic than the damage caused to families from domestic violence. Sadly, my community of East Harlem is no stranger to this troubling issue, where one in eight crimes are linked to domestic violence.  When domestic violence leaves victims trapped, it is up to the government to support their escape.  Mayor de Blaiso’s actions will help return the power and control from the abuser to the victim and get their lives back on track.  

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio for working toward finding solutions that are responsive to the needs of domestic violence survivors,” said Assembly Member Helene E. Weinstein, Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

“It's heartbreaking that for many, making the choice to leave their abuser also means making the choice to lose their pay, their employment, or their home. Today, we are taking an important step to change that. The Administration's new and holistic approach to victims services will set domestic abuse survivors up for success and I applaud their efforts to remove the economic stumbling blocks that may have kept a victim afraid to leave their abuser's home. I am further thankful that everyone with an order of protection against an abuser will now receive personal follow-up from the NYPD, better ensuring their safety. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Police Commissioner Jimmy O'Neill, and the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner Cecile Noel for their leadership and their commitment to supporting survivors and ending domestic abuse,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson.

“Protecting our most vulnerable New Yorkers continues to be a top priority for my office and I am pleased to see the administration is taking steps to empower those who have been victims of domestic violence,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “These initiatives will help to ensure those who must leave their homes still receive a paycheck and have a place to recover, while they work to get their lives back in order. I applaud the administration and my colleague Council Member Ferreras for introducing this legislation.”

“In order to confront the pervasive problem of domestic violence, we must break the cycle of abuse that leaves victims feeling powerless, isolated, and alone. No victim of domestic violence should ever have to fear missing work, losing their home, or being overlooked by law enforcement as they attend to their immediate safety needs. I thank Mayor de Blasio for taking immediate action to protect and empower victims, and to unite social service agencies and law enforcement towards a common goal to save lives,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin.

Council Member Helen Rosenthal said, “As co-Chair of the Women's Caucus, I applaud the Mayor for taking significant and immediate steps to protect the victims of domestic abuse. In supporting legislation through the Paid Safe Leave, providing housing protection by placing lawyers at Family Justice Centers, and having the NYPD step up identification efforts and enforcement of chronic offenders, the Mayor is utilizing the multidimensional approach that is so critical to battling the complex issue of domestic violence.” 

"One of the most devastating issues to our communities and our families is domestic violence and it is clear that everything in the City's power must be done to help those who suffer from an abusive home environment," said Council Member Donovan Richards. "I'm proud to stand with Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito and my colleagues in the Council to put forth every effort to support victims who often feel like they have no place to turn."

Judge Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families, said, “Sanctuary for Families is proud to stand with the Mayor in support of this critically needed legislation. Survivors of domestic violence should not have to choose between their jobs and getting help. By providing survivors with an important economic protection and confidentiality, the legislation will remove significant barriers and allow survivors to seek help while not jeopardizing their livelihood. Sanctuary for Families urges the City Council and Mayor de Blasio to do what’s right for the thousands of people who suffer at the hands of their abusers, and make sure this measure becomes law.”

“It’s this type of expansive thinking that amplifies the effectiveness of our City’s immensely important paid sick days legislation,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of NOW NY. “Domestic violence often leads to losing one’s job, having access to safe leave will go a long way to preventing the domino effect that turns a family upside down."

“We strongly endorse this important and necessary expansion of the uses of Paid Sick Leave,” said Brooklyn Chamber President and CEO Carlo A. Scissura. “People who are victims of domestic violence and physical or mental abuse are among those who need Paid Sick Leave the most, and this legislation will ensure that they will not be left behind.”

Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon said, “Safe Horizon applauds Mayor de Blasio for proposing legislation to allow victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking up to five days of paid leave to address safety concerns without needing to disclose details related to their victimization to their employer. Known as ‘Paid Safe Leave’, this new policy means that victims of these crimes will no longer be forced to choose between seeking assistance – including obtaining legal services, meeting with law enforcement or seeking counseling – and missing out on needed income. As the nation’s leading victim assistance organization, Safe Horizon commends Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Cecile Noel from the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence for crafting this thoughtful proposal and for always putting the safety needs of crime victims first.”

“This important bill will address some of the most costly consequences of intimate partner violence for survivors – that of missing work and jeopardizing their jobs to take care of their emotional and physical safety and well-being. This is especially important for LGBTQ survivors, particularly transgender survivors, and LGBTQ people of color, who already face disproportionate rates of employment discrimination and poverty,” said Beverly Tillery, Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

“Urban Resource Institute fully supports the NYC Paid Safe Leave legislation, as it will extend crucial support to those attempting to escape and recover from domestic violence. Far too often, the public does not consider and fully understand the devastating and wide-ranging effects that domestic violence has on a survivor’s family, career, and finances. This legislation will help encourage victims of domestic violence to seek life-saving services that will allow them to flee abuse and begin to rebuild their lives,” said Nathaniel Fields, President and CEO of Urban Resource Institute.

“The ability to access much needed services is a critical factor in women’s ability to get out of harm’s way and to safety in domestic violence situations,” said Mallika Dutt, Founder and President of Breakthrough. “By enabling domestic violence survivors to use their sick leave as safe leave is a path-breaking step to safety and security for women and their children. This bill is long overdue.”

“Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult and time consuming. If there are children involved it can get even more complicated. Women sometimes have to choose between getting paid for work and legal solutions. With the support of employers, having access to safe time will be helpful to maintain employment, which is critical for survival,” said Cecile Gaston, Executive Director of Violence Intervention Program.

“Victims of Violence should not be penalized economically for taking time off from work to protect themselves and their children,” said Carol Robles-Roman, President and CEO of Legal Momentum. “Victims should not have to choose between physical safety and economic safety. Too often, victims do not leave violent relationships because they are financially dependent on their abusers and cannot afford to leave. As the architects of the Violence Against Women Act, Legal Momentum supports this bill because it recognizes that economic stability is critical to living a life free of violence.”

“Kudos to Mayor de Blasio for guaranteeing that when New Yorkers face domestic violence, they can act to keep themselves and their children safe without fearing losing a paycheck or their job,” said Paul Sonn, General Counsel and Program Director of the National Employment Law Project.

“A Better Balance applauds the Mayor for adding this important protection for domestic violence victims to the earned sick time law. As co-authors of the original bill that gave paid sick leave to millions of New Yorkers who did not have it before, we are delighted that New York City will now also guarantee that domestic violence victims can take time off to go to court and get safe without sacrificing the pay they especially need at a time of crisis,” said Sherry Leiwant, co-President and co-Founder of A Better Balance.

"The legislation proposed by Mayor de Blasio to support victims of domestic violence will provide much needed, common sense policies to increase their physical and economic security, and ultimately, to build productive and independent lives," said Beverly Neufeld, President of PowHer New York.

“The paid safe leave legislation will allow survivors to take important steps to protect themselves while they continue to work. No survivor of domestic violence should ever have to choose between being safe and being employed,” said Maya Raghu, Director of Workplace Equality at the National Women’s Law Center.

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