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County-by-county resources for domestic violence victims

County-by-county resources for domestic violence victims

'I think one of the really important things is for folks to know they’re not the only ones in this situation.'
County-by-county resources for domestic violence victims
Stillwater Police First Sgt. Ray Cordani at an event last year on cell phones donated for domestic violence victims.
Photographer: Erica Miller

According to experts, victims of domestic violence often feel they have no options when it comes to extricating themselves from abusive situations. 

In the Capital Region, resources vary from county to county, but all domestic violence programs have the same needs: Advocates to undergo training to be able to help victims through the legal process — from orders of protection to family court and divorce — toiletries for those who have to move out of their homes at a moment's notice, volunteers to hold fundraisers to pay for more beds in shelters, and additional volunteers to host pets that cannot join their owners in temporary housing, or shelters.

Schoharie County

The Schoharie County Domestic Violence Program is a three-county consortium run by Catholic Charities -- it also serves Delaware and Ostego counties. Because its service area is so rural, the group has unique needs.

“In a rural community such as this, people have animals they can’t part with, such as horses,” said Angie Smith, Domestic Violence Program director for the Schoharie County Domestic Violence Program.

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To get hired as an advocate, applicants need an associate's degree, at minimum, with a bachelor's degree preferred. While advocates are often charged with helping survivors navigate the legal process, no formal legal background is needed, and a variety of experience among applicants is sought.

According to Smith, the greatest need for expertise can often come on the financial, rather than legal, front. 

The consortium offers a financial empowerment workshop for survivors who fear for their financial stability and their children's future, should they separate from an abusive partner. 

“We find that -- and most programs find this -- the financial component when people have been financially controlled is what makes people stay, instead of leaving for an independent setting," said Smith, who has been working as the director for more than 16 years. 

Once the time is right to move out, response centers can provide temporary lodging and other resources, including legal assistance to obtain orders of protection and other safety measures during what experts say is the most vulnerable period for survivors. 

"Let’s say you do leave your home," Smith said. "Research shows that that’s actually the most dangerous time, because [the abuser] may try to take control of the situation and pursue you. So if you move into a new apartment, you need a safety plan … there’s staying safe in the home, but also at work or when picking the kids up from school.”

Schoharie County's response team is located at 489 West Main St. in Cobleskill, and their hotline is 518-234-2231, which accepts collect calls and is open 24 hours.

Saratoga County

In Saratoga County, Saratoga Wellspring has diversified its services over the years.

According to Maggie Fronk, Saratoga Wellspring's executive director, every case of domestic violence is different, demanding a versatile response team within her organization. 

“There’s not just one strategy," Fronk said. "It’s really a holistic approach ... I think everyone’s safety plan is different. We’ll talk about things like access to guns, and we might do a danger assessment when it comes to [the abuser's] access to firearms.” 

Fronk said that the best first step is calling their hotline, 518-584-8188, whether you're a victim or you know someone at risk.

“To me, it’s just calling a hotline," she said. "If they call, they’ll be able to get help to whatever extent they need, whether it’s to get to a shelter or get removed from the situation.” 

One of the biggest problems facing domestic violence response centers is victims' fears about financial and other logistical reasons for removing themselves from abusive situations.

“I think a lot of folks might be afraid to call a hotline because they worry that they might have to leave immediately,” Fronk said.

Often, response centers will offer tips of how to plan ahead for a move and ways to secure a home for themselves and their children first, taking the pressure off the caller to think of all of the consequences of moving.

Saratoga Wellspring can be found at 480 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. Their 24 our hotline is 518-584-8188

Other regional resources

The OVC TTAC also offers a resource library for both survivors and service providers. 

Other ways to volunteer, such as at the Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery County, can come in the form of bilingual speakers who can help survivors communicate with advocates. 

Catholic Charities Fulton and Montgomery County can be found at 55 East Main St., Suite 100 in Johnstown, and their hotline is 518-842-3384.

Experts also say donations of supplies, such as toiletries or other self-care products can be just as valuable as monetary donations.

The Schenectady YWCA, has a donations box at its main entrance, at 44 Washington Ave. in Schenectady. The hotline is 518-374-3386, operating 24/7. 

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