BRIARCLIFF, N.Y. - The number of domestic violence incidents in Briarcliff were down in 2012, but Briarcliff Police Department Chief Norman Campion said the decrease in incidents could mean less residents are reporting them to police out of fear or embarrassment.
"It's tough to say, but it certainly plays a role in the number of incidents that are reported," Campion said about victims remaining silent.
In 2012, Campion said 15 domestic violence incidents were reported to police. That number is down slightly from the 16 reported in 2010 and the 28 reported in 2008.
"It's hard to say if there's a specific reason for the decrease," Campion said. "You like to hope that everyone who is affected by these incidents is reporting them to police."
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.”