Agencies working to protect victims of domestic violence in Erie County are gaining financial support with a grant from the federal government.
“This money will be used wisely. It will be used to fight domestic violence, and to keep the victims of domestic violence here safe in Erie County,” said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn on Wednesday during the announcement of a $900,000 dollar grant.
The money is headed to Western New York from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women’s Improving Criminal Justice Responses (ICJR) program.
It will be allocated to the county’s Buffalo and Erie County Stopping Abuse in the Family Environment program – known in short as BE SAFE – to fund multiple positions in the county’s Domestic Violence High-Risk Team, which works to reduce domestic violence homicides and near-fatal assaults.
Positions within the DA’s office, Department of Probation, Buffalo Police Department, and Child and Family Services Haven House already exist. But with the new funding, a High-Risk Team Advocate position is being created within the International Institute of Buffalo.
“This position at the institute will help, specifically, immigrants and refugees who are at the highest risk of being murdered by their partner, and to help facilitate case management and advocacy for the other U.S. citizen survivors as well, who are deemed high risk within this county,” said Amy Fleischauer, director of Survivor Support Services at the institute.
According to Fleischauer, immigrants and refugees face dangers similar to those faced by U.S.-born individuals, plus additional barriers.
“Especially during these times, abusers can really use the fear of deportation, the fear of deportation of children, of yanking immigration status in order to keep immigrant survivors from moving forward and telling their story.”
The grant is one of only 54 issued by the Department of Justice from a pool of $32 million. It will also be used to train members of law enforcement and the legal system on best practices to ensure domestic violence offenders are held accountable.
The grant is the third this week to be awarded to Erie County from the DOJ.