Westchester District Attorney Anthony Scarpino and Tuckahoe Police Chief John Costanzo

During this unprecedented health crisis, the coronavirus pandemic, workers are asked to work from home or are laid off, children are not in school, and families are being asked to either self-quarantine or remain at home to keep from catching the virus. For victims of domestic abuse, including intimate partner abuse, child or elder abuse, this may be a particularly vulnerable time.

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Help is Available Even in These Times of Crisis
Abuse is all about power and control and with people forced to spend more hours together in limited spaces tension can be exacerbated. An abuser may feel more justified in escalating their tactics to isolate their victims, a real concern to anyone who is at risk of being victimized and to all those affected by the health crisis. Job disruption may put additional financial strains on the household adding to an already volatile situation. Escape plans may be disrupted because of the epidemic. Travel restrictions may impact a survivor’s escape or safety plan. It may not be medically safe for a victim to use public transportation. Money saved for “escape” may be needed for general support when victims are out of work.

Despite the coronavirus outbreak, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division continues to serve those who may be a victim of domestic violence, elder abuse, human trafficking and child abuse. If anyone believes they are a victim or becoming a victim, they should call 911 or contact their local police or call our Special Prosecutions Division
at (914) 995-3000.

How to reach out for help during the crisis:

  • With response to COVID-19, most organizations are not open for walk-in clients but are available for telephone support.
  • Victims may fear being exposed to others but Westchester shelters have plans in place to help isolate residents from one another as necessary.
  • The elderly and others who may have underlying health conditions may be at increased risk from exposure in public places like shelters, day care or counseling centers.
  • Westchester Social Security offices are closed but help is available using their telephone support system for Social Security recipients.

Some important steps you can take if you are afraid of experiencing domestic violence:

  • Safety planning is always an important element of dealing with exposure to domestic violence. Make sure you have a safety plan! The DA’s domestic violence staff is available to counsel you about safety issues and safety planning.
  • Make sure friends and family know where you are and what you are doing. Frequently check in with friends and family and ask them to check in with you.
  • It’s important in times of stress at home to have a way to avoid a potential violent encounter by retreating to a safe space in your home. Plan where that space might be, perhaps a bedroom, bathroom or somewhere else to avoid an escalation of violence.
  • Remember, when danger escalates, it is always important to have an escape plan–that includes planning ahead with your children. Some advocacy agencies recommend a safe word or code word with children to alert them that you are in danger and you need to come together to avoid an approaching threat.
  • Call 911. Police services are all still in place.

How friends and neighbors can help:

  • If you suspect someone you care about is being abused, call regularly and check in
  • If they stop answering their phones and you suspect abuse, call 911.

Important Phone Numbers

Telephones are a lifeline for anyone feeling isolated.
For domestic violence, elder abuse or child abuse call the DA’s Special Prosecutions Division at (914) 995-3000. For elder abuse complaints after business hours, call our help line at (914) 995-1940.

In addition to the District Attorney’s Office, other support providers are available to help:

  • Hope’s Door: 1-888-438-8700 (24-hour hotline)
  • My Sister’s Place 1-800-298-7233 (24-hour hotline)
  • The Loft/LGBTQ Community Services Center: (914) 948-2932
  • Legal Services of the Hudson Valley: (914) 949-1305
  • Pace Women’s Justice Center: (914) 287-0739
  • Victim’s Assistance Services of Westchester, Inc.: (914) 345-9111
  • Westchester County Office for Women:
    • (914) 995-5972 English
    • (914) 995-6581 Spanish

Stay safe and remember help is always available.