Vera House

John Smith/WAER News

 Vera House has been leading the discussion and educating the public about domestic and sexual violence in Central New York for several decades. Every year they pause to remember one of their founders, Sister Mary Vera by presenting another community member with an award who carries on her humanitarian spirit. Physical Education Teacher Joe Moran from the Hughes School and the Director of the Building Men program is this year’s recipient. For 9 years since he started the program, Moran and his team have been working with Syracuse City School District students on character building and relationships.

John Smith / WAER News

Out of all of the shirts for sale in stores at Destiny USA, you’ll never see any with these sayings... ”The pain will never stop," and “I chose to survive.”  Those are just a sampling of the more than 300 shirts spread across the Vera House Clothesline Project at the mall to raise awareness about sexual abuse.  All of them are made by survivors and will be on display until May 6th.  Prevention and Education Director Loren Cunningham says sexual abuse causes a ripple effect of emotions in families and beyond.

Ben Miller, WAER News

As part of Vera House’s 21st annual White Ribbon Campaign, about 200 people tied white ribbons around poles in downtown Syracuse on Friday to raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault.

Carolyn Blackburne

  Anyone who watches television in Central New York knows who Billy Fuccillo is. But today, he was in the limelight for another reason... that was also pretty huge. 

"With all the things going on around the country with domestic violence, we were able to kick in and contribute over 200k to domestic violence organizations," Fuccillo said. 

verahouse.org

  Vera House is celebrating its 25th Anniversary of fighting domestic and sexual violence today by allowing survivors to share stories about overcoming their abuse.

Jennifer explained how a period of abuse in her childhood led to decades of confusion and frustration in trying to cope with her experiences. She says she has learned to embrace the title of Survivor with the others that describe her life.

  Some Central New York colleges and universities might be paying close attention to a new California law aimed at curbing sexual assault. The law redefines the rules regarding sexual consent at public universities in the state. Vera House Executive Director Randi Bregman says that by shifting the scrutiny off of the victim… this law could encourage more women to report sexual assault.

Chris Bolt/WAER News

Syracuse High School athletes are having talks about violence when they are not on the playing field.

The Syracuse School District is working with the local non-profit Vera House on “Coaching Boys into Men”.

It’s a violence prevention program that allows high school coaches to speak with male athletes about things like abusive language, the meaning of consent and accountability.

Nottingham high school football starting center Joseph Bell says he thinks the program will be a great opportunity.

bbc.com

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is one of eight co-sponsors of a bipartisan bill aimed at bringing sexual assault on college campuses out of the shadows.  The Campus Accountability and Safety Act aims to create accountability and transparency on campuses by giving aggressively penalizing colleges and universities that don’t properly investigate sexual assaults.  

 Gillibrand says the survivors who come forward to tell their stories are the definition of courage.

Fines for under-reporting include up to 1% of an institution’s operating budget, which could amount to millions of dollars. 

Gillibrand says the confidential advisors can play a key role in getting survivors the services they need and assisting the investigation.

"She is able to know what her options are, what it would like if she did a college campus review, what it would look like if she went through the criminal justice system, and she can have complete control of her case.  Having that first entry point be someone who's well trained, which is not the case on college campuses today, so they actually ask the right questions in the right order so they save information that's needed later and give comfort to that  survivor, that will result in more reporting and more ultimate prosecutions."

The measure also requires a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement so it’s clear who will take the lead on the investigation.  Gillibrand expects support for the legislation to grow in time, and hopes for floor time in September to make the case.  She’s optimistic the measure will pass this year. 

VERA HOUSE REACTS

The Education Director of Vera House thinks the new legislation is a positive step forward. Loren Cunningham says while one piece of legislation can't address all aspects of the issue, it is important that colleges and universities will be held more accountable. 

   Cunningham says some of the local colleges and universities in Syracuse are more receptive than others to training and prevention activities, but adds Vera House has a good working relationship with most of them.
verahouse.org

  People might want to page through the annual report for Vera House just released today...not to find financial or business information, but to find a wider range of services than many people know the offer.  Executive Director Randi Bregman would like to have people broaden their perspective should they ever need any kind of help for themselves, family or friends regarding relationship violence or sexual abuse. 

hand with a wristband stretched across it
John Smith / WAER News

A group of people in Onondaga County who work with older adults want to make sure they know how to protect themselves from scams and elder abuse.

Wednesday was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and Vera House estimates that 6,000 incidents in the County went unreported in 2013.

Vera House Spokesperson Jenny Hicks says Elder Abuse can take many different forms:

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