ALBANY, N.Y. - Senator Charles Schumer wants to reauthorize a national law that's about to expire -- a law he says has helped agencies prevent and fight domestic violence.
According to a state report, law enforcement responded to more than 43,000 domestic abuse incidents in Upstate New York during 2011, but local officials say the numbers are much higher.
"We have a huge problem with domestic violence and its been ignored for too long," said Senator Schumer.
Senator Schumer is calling on colleagues to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
According to a report by the state division of criminal justice services there were more than 6,000 reports of domestic violence in 2011 in the Capital Region. A local non-profit that provides shelter and counseling to domestic violence victims says the numbers are even higher.
"Many people do not report to the police. Some people go through family court instead and some people never engage the legal system," said Yvonne Masse with the Equinox.
Masse says the organization sheltered 150 adults and their children last year. The Legal Project, which provides free legal services to domestic violence victims was also not surprised by the alarming statistics in our area.
"A huge increase. Just over the past three years we've seen a 50 percent increase in victims of domestic violence being served by The Legal Project," said Lisa Frisch with organization.
One concern for advocates is domestic violence on college campuses. Grants provided through the Violence Against Women Act is a main reason they are able to continue their work on campus.
"It allowed us to train all of our security officers around the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It allowed us to train all of our resident assistants on campus," said Dennis McDonald with student affairs at St.Rose.
"The hardest part is resources because of all the programs that are working with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are always in a challenging position to keep up funding," said Frisch.
Lawmakers are expected to vote on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act next week.
If you or anyone you know needs help regarding domestic violence you can call the equinox 24 hour domestic violence hotline 518-432-7865.
341 Northern Blvd., Albany, NY 12204
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