Vera House released its 24th Annual Report to the Community on Wednesday, providing a snapshot of Domestic and Sexual Violence. The statistics are disturbing.
In 2012, The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office and Syracuse Police Department answered more than 18,300 domestic violence calls combined, leading to more than 2,500 perpetrator arrests.
A part of the annual report presentation included personal stories of survivors, which were previously scripted for a television special. Monique, a survivor of sexual abuse and rape, recounted when her step father began to sexually abuse her during her early teen years. A warning to our readers and listeners: her account is graphic.
Dawn, another survivor, presented her story of years of domestic violence at the hands of her husband, whom she met as a junior in college. She and Monique both ended their stories with how Vera House helped them recover and resume their lives after they received help and left their abusers.
Advocates to end domestic and sexual violence of all ages also presented words of empowerment at the media event, including spoken word Artist Ricky Maeweather, who rapped about it. Roseanne Olszewski, a victim advocate for Project Phoenix, also spoke about a grant program run by Verizon's Helpline Empowerment Program. The project is a partnership between Phoenix, South Side Innovation Center, the WISE Women's Business Center, and Vera House, with the goal of empowering survivors of domestic violence - both financially and otherwise - through entrepreneurship and business ownership. The project helps women submit business plans to Verizon in pursuit of a $5,000 grant to begin their own businesses.
In 2012 alone, Vera House answered more than 4,546 calls at their 24-hour crisis and support hotline (468-3260), and counseled 792 women, men and children impacted by domestic and/or sexual violence. If you’re in immediate danger from domestic or sexual violence, Vera House recommends calling 911.