‘Hope is everything’: October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and locally, advocates say we’re seeing progress.

In Monroe County, fewer 911 calls for domestic disputes were made last year. Still the number, over 41,000, is staggering. The numbers are down from the last couple of years, but experts don’t know if it’s because fewer cases of abuse are happening, or survivors are more afraid to come forward.

“We see people from all walks of life who need our support and services,” President and CEO of Willow Domestic Violence Center Meaghan de Chateauvieux.

More then 15,000 people in Monroe County seek out Willow’s help each year.

“And, we work with survivors who are in really dark moments to safety plan, to figure out what they need for themselves and their children and their pets in that moment, to feel a little bit safer, to feel like they have, you know, someone walking with them, that they have options in their lives because there’s always there’s always tomorrow,” de Chateauvieux said.

According to Willow, three people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides last year and more than 4,500 domestic violence reports were made in our county. Fifty-five percent of those cases happened in the City of Rochester.

“These reports really show us just the tip of the iceberg,” de Chateauvieux said.

Monroe County had a couple hundred fewer domestic dispute calls to 911 last year compared to the year before. De Chateauvieux suspects domestic violence is underreported.

“I’d like to think numbers are slightly down because we are all doing a great job. My biggest fear is that numbers are down because people aren’t comfortable coming forward. And so we’re working harder, doubling down our efforts to make sure that we have open doors, open access,” de Chateauvieux said.

De Chateauvieux says domestic violence comes in many different forms and Willow has dealt with them all.

“Sometimes the abuse can be financial, the abuse can be cyberstalking, the abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, sexual abuse. I mean, it really does require that, you know, pattern of power and control to maintain that control in a relationship,” de Chateauvieux said.

The first step for many is the safe haven of the shelter. Then Willow’s counselors help survivors plan the next stage.

“Hope is everything. And you just find yourself in the darkest moments. I mean, we all have, whether we’ve experienced abusive relationships or not, there are dark moments in everyone’s life. And I think the one factor we know that helps people build that resilience to find their way out of the darkness is hope,” de Chateauvieux said.

If you’re in need of help, you can call Willow 24/7 at 222-SAFE.

Or visit their website here.