February 2, 2021, Rochester, N.Y. — As parents, watching the video of a distressed nine-year-old child being handcuffed and pepper sprayed was deeply disturbing. As leaders of agencies that stand against violence and provide support services for victims, we see this incident as an anguished cry for help, not only for this young child, but for the mental health and wellbeing of our entire community. The impact of trauma is acutely felt in moments like these as we bear witness to this young child’s pain and fear. We know that the pandemic has exacerbated violence, particularly family violence, within our community.
As mental health crisis continues to rise due to the pandemic, we stand firm that family violence and mental health crises require a compassionate, trained, and trauma informed response. Collaboration is key to addressing these complex issues of family violence and mental health that require interagency communication, systems for supporting each other’s work, cross training and the community. We need you, the community, to join with us in speaking out against all forms of violence. The ripple effects of community violence and trauma impact us all, including responding officers. It is clear that the prevention of community violence – and a compassionate community response – can only be achieved through persistent outreach to individuals, families and organizations.
At Willow and Bivona, we know the critical importance of strong partnerships. We work closely with victim advocates, social workers, therapists, schools, CPS, the courts, law enforcement, and most significantly, the families and children impacted by violence. We know from experience that our partners are strongly supportive of prevention and collaborative efforts. The newly formed Person-in-Crisis initiative, which was not called to respond in this instance, is one such collaborative effort involving many community agencies and it is ready to be dispatched at a moment’s notice – they are the backup that needs to be called in for mental health situations. We offer training, support and assistance as we strive together to develop immediate trauma informed responses to community crisis.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing abuse, call Willow 24/7 at 585-222-SAFE (7233) or Bivona at (585) 935-7800.
ABOUT WILLOW CENTER
Founded in 1979, Willow Domestic Violence Center has provided comprehensive domestic violence services for the Greater Rochester community for over 40 years, reaching a yearly average of 7,000 survivors of domestic violence. The organization provides a full continuum of free and confidential services, without judgement, including a 24/7 hotline, emergency shelter, counseling, court advocacy, case management, prevention outreach and training.
ABOUT BIVONA CHILD ADVOCACY CENTER
Bivona Child Advocacy Center provides comprehensive services to children in the aftermath of abuse and other traumas. In 2019, Bivona’s multidisciplinary team served 2,000 children who endured sexual and physical abuse. Committed to a future in which all children are safe and free from abuse, Bivona also provides prevention and education throughout Monroe County.