ARMONK, N.Y. – Fifty-five domestic violence cases were reported to police in North Castle in 2012, in line with reported cases in 2010 (54) and up 17 percent from 2008 (47). These numbers put North Castle 30th out of 42 Westchester County towns for reported cases per capita.
Domestic violence cases represent any call involving a family or household member who are dating, living together or in same-sex relationships, North Castle police said.
Domestic violence isn't confined to one area of Westchester County; it happens in every town.
Figures from the Westchester County Office for Women show domestic violence incidents were reported in cities like Mount Vernon and sleepy towns like North Salem. Mount Vernon, per capita, had the highest number of reported cases, followed by New Rochelle, White Plains, Peekskill and Buchanan.
The latest figures are from 2010, the most recently available information. Officials say the statistics don't take into account the many rape cases that go unreported.
Nancy Levin, chief development officer at My Sister's Place, said many residents living in Westchester don't have a clear understanding that domestic violence is happening “right in our backyard.”
“It's not a trend or a difference in incidence from year to year. It's a public health issue,” she said.
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, died in January after she was allegedly choked her to death. 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.
Levin notes it's 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 socio-economic status,” Levin said. “We are trying to change the way society thinks about intimate partner abuse and the culture that allows for it.”
North Castle police continue to follow state-mandated protocol for domestic violence cases and use discretion when appropriate, North Castle Police Chief William Fisher said.