POUND RIDGE, N.Y. -- A recent panel discussion organized by the Domestic Abuse Network of Northeastern Westchester (DANNEW) was held at the Pound Ridge Library. Among those speaking was Town Police Chief David Ryan, who presented a convincing case as to how this issue is more prevalent in a small community like ours than most people may think.
The 90-minute discussion was moderated by Nicole Malgarinos of DANNEW.
The panel included six dedicated professionals who compared their views on working with victims when providing assistance. Included on the panel were Chip Andrus, pastor of the South Salem Presbyterian Church and Kymberly McNair, associate minister of the Antioch Baptist Church of Bedford Hills. McNair is also a coordinator at My Sister’s Place, an advocacy service that provides emergency housing for victims of domestic abuse.
In many communities, clergy are usually considered first responders because they are usually the ones a victim will turn to for help.
Also part of the panel was a local resident who through her resilience, spoke of dealing with domestic abuse and how she was able to receive assistance from people trained to reach out to anyone experiencing an abusive situation. In acknowledging Ryan, this individual started out by saying “If not for him I would not be alive today.”
In explaining what she went through before receiving help, she continued “It’s like living a nightmare and then feeling like being dumped into an ocean and you don’t know if you’re swimming up or down but you’re swimming as hard as you can.”
One emphasis discussed by the panel was how some victims are reluctant to come forward to report a situation due to fears of retaliation by the person responsible for initiating the violence. Everyone on the panel agreed that the most important part of providing help is to first promote public awareness within the community.
Ryan also confirmed how it is also a huge challenge for law enforcement due to trust issues. “My officers understand they should not talk down to a victim about the incident that brought them into my office for help but to have a greater understanding of the psychological scars one goes through,'' he said. He reiterated how a victim needs everything to be able to take that first step in trusting law enforcement.
All the panelists agreed the priority when dealing with a victim for the first time is to provide a level of comfort so they can trust the services being offered to them. The next issue that was discussed openly was how communities need to become more involved. Statistics are higher than many people think. Bringing awareness into a community will no doubt provide any victim of domestic abuse the willingness to reach out for the help they need.
For anyone who has been a victim of abuse, physical or verbal, domestic or outside of the home, you can have complete trust in the law enforcement community. As with Ryan, they are dedicated in providing help while maintaining the highest standard of trust in respecting one’s privacy when dealing with this situation. Ryan can be reached at the Pound Ridge Police Department at 914-764-4206.
Laurance Baschkin is a resident of Pound Ridge.