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    Domestic violence resolution passed by local legislators

    The Global Gender Justice Clinic at Cornell University discusses the proposed resolution.
    Tompkins County legislators passed a resolution on March 4 declaring freedom from domestic violence as a human right. The resolution was written and proposed by Cornell University’s Global Gender Justice Clinic.

    According to county data, Tompkins County law enforcement agencies have reported an average of 147 domestic violence victims each year from 2010 to 2013. In 2013, 87 people died in New York from intimate partner homicide. From 2010-2013, Tompkins County had the 13th lowest amount of domestic violence reports per county in New York each year, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. In 2009, Tompkins County had the 25th most amount of reports of any county in the state.

    However, the resolution passed by the council noted that Tompkins County has been “a leader in domestic violence response” over the past 25 years.

    “I think we’re really fortunate to be in a county where we have such strong human resources.,” Elizabeth Brundige, Executive Director of Cornell’s Global Gender Justice Clinic, said. “[We have] people at the community level, at the government level who are really committed to these issues.”

    The resolution, which was forwarded to Ithaca Chief of Police John R. Barber, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, other local governments and campus police agencies, advised Ithaca and its surrounding communities to undertake a study that looks at the causes of local domestic violence incidents and the barriers in the city’s service delivery to survivors of domestic violence.

    “There are people here that can and will help you,” Jamie Williamson, Public Information Officer for the Ithaca Police Department, said. “There are a countless number of agencies, both privately and publically funded, that’ll help you out, and that’s awesome.”

    In 2013, the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, an organization based in Ithaca that aims to reduce the trauma that results from domestic violence served 212 new adult domestic violence clients, according to the resolution.

    It is important to note that these statistics involve only the reported cases of domestic violence, said Tiffany Greco, Education Director at the Advocacy Center.

    “It’s often very difficult for us to come to any kind of definitive conclusion because we know that domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes,” Greco said. “So any numbers that cities of similar sizes are reporting will never cover the whole picture. We know that in Tompkins County it does not capture the whole picture.”

    While Brundige recognizes the success that Tompkins County has had in implementing strong resources in the community, she realizes that there is definitely room for improvement.

    “I think [the resolution being passed] is not to say the problem has been solved. The number of calls the Advocacy Center continues to get shows this is very much a problem in our own backyard.”

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