VALHALLA, N.Y. -- Reported domestic violence incidents in Mount Pleasant were down in 2012, but Police Chief Louis Alagno said it's unclear whether less incidents are occurring, or if less residents are reporting them to police.
"It's hard to explain why the number of incidents fluctuate the way they do," Alagno said about the number of reported incidents. "Domestic violence is a problem that crosses all sorts of ethnic and economic boundaries in our society."
In 2012, Alagno said there were 120 domestic incidents which led to 15 arrests. That number is down from the 149 incidents reported in 2010, which was up from the 116 in 2008.
Alagno said that despite an improvement to domestic violence laws and services, the crime remains as one of the toughest to battle.
"You're not only battling against the person committing the crime, but sometimes you're also battling against the victim," Alagno said. "We have incidents where we make an arrest and then the victim shows up to court and asks for the charges to be dropped, so it's tough."
Approximately one in five women across the nation have been beaten, coerced into sex or involved in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship in their lifetime, according to Jennifer Ryan Safsel, director of development and community relations for Hope's Door, a domestic violence shelter in northern Westchester.
“It's a scary thing,” she said. “A day doesn't go by without a news story on violence against women.”
Westchester has seen several high-profile domestic violence deaths in the news in recent years. Theresa Gorski, a Sleepy Hollow mother of two, was choked to death in January. Gorski's husband, Christopher Howson, is facing murder charges.
Places such as Hope's Door and My Sister's Place provide counseling, outreach programs and emergency support to victims of domestic violence. Hope's Door provides a 24-hour, confidential emergency hotline at 888-438-8700. It also helps teenagers recognize the warning signs of an abusive relationship, something that's especially important because a growing number of women are affected, Safsel said.
Nancy Levin, chief development officer at My Sister's Place, said domestic violence is an issue across the socioeconomic spectrum.
“Whether you are living in a housing project or an affluent community, domestic violence reaches across gender, race and socioeconomic status,” Levin said. “We are trying to change the way society thinks about intimate partner abuse and the culture that allows for it.”
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