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Services available for domestic violence victims

Services available for domestic violence victims

Services available for domestic violence victims
Photographer: Gazette file photo

Support services are in place for local victims of domestic violence.

“We’re really sad to hear about another victim in Schenectady County,” said Lauren Trunko, YWCA director of Women and Family Services, referring to last week’s alleged homicide. “When you hear about another homicide, it centers and grounds us for what we’re doing.”

A Schenectady man faces second-degree murder charges after allegedly strangling Marian Loftis, 35, to death last week.

The fatal encounter was not the first violent exchange between Budhnarain Kadar, 41, and Loftis (who also used the name Singh).

Court documents reveal that Kadar was charged with first-degree criminal contempt in May of 2017 after pushing Loftis onto a couch at their shared Maplewood Avenue residence and restricting her from leaving.

A stay-away order of protection was issued and expired a year later.

Orders of protection can be useful tools, said Trunko, speaking generally and without knowledge of any particular case.

But they can escalate tensions and increase risk from perpetrators who have no regard for the victim and are already committed to violence.

“I think they’re a good tool, but not always the safest option,” Trunko said.

In her statement dated May 19, 2017, Loftis said physical violence had increased in frequency or severity during the previous six months.

As the county’s lead domestic violence agency, YWCA has for 40 years offered numerous services for victims of domestic violence in Schenectady County, including emergency shelters: counseling and financial advice; housing assistance; and guidance navigating the court system.

YWCA offers a 24-hour hotline for victims at 518-374-3386.

“We also have a high-risk team where we look at cases that are at higher risk for lethality,” Trunko said.

YWCA staffers present domestic violence victims several options.

Victims can relocate; utilize an in- or out-of-county shelter; create alarm systems; or craft a safety plan that loops in family and friends.

The YWCA’s domestic violence shelter served 400 women and children last year, and staff provided 18,000 hours of services for all programming.

Numbers have been generally consistent over the past five to 10 years. “Typically, the service we provide is pretty steady,” Trunko said.

Another recent high-profile domestic violence case saw the victim issue an order of protection against an abusive partner.

Dushan Howard, who was sentenced to 75 years in state prison after shooting three family members, was issued a full order of protection barring any contact with his partner three months before the shooting, a slow-burning fuse prosecutors said ultimately sparked the incident.

Kadar, who previously lived at the 856 Maplewood Ave. residence with Loftis, remains in custody and is due back in City Court on Wednesday.

Loftis was laid to rest Monday at Park View Cemetery.

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