PELHAM, N.Y. – The number of reported domestic incidents rose 77 percent in the Village of Pelham and 94 percent in Pelham Manor from 2008 to 2010, according to recent statistics.
Pelham Village reported 62 domestic violence incidents in 2010, up 77 percent from 35 reported in 2008. At the same time, however, arrests were down. Of the 35 reports in 2008, six arrests were made. Of the 62 reports in 2010, four arrests were made. Pelham Village has a population of 6,400.
Pelham Manor reported 33 domestic violence incidents in 2010, up 94 percent from 17 reported in 2008. Arrests did increase slightly between the years. Of the 17 reports in 2008, three arrests were made. Of the 33 reports in 2010, six arrests were made. Pelham Manor has a population of 5,466.
Domestic violence isn't confined to one area of Westchester County; it happens in every community.
Figures from the Westchester County Office for Women show domestic 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.
Nancy Levin, chief development officer at My Sister's Place, said many Westchester residents 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.
About one in five women nationwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or involved in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship in her lifetime, said 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 recent years.
Theresa Gorski, a Sleepy Hollow mother of two, died in January after her husband reportedly choked her to death. Gorski's husband, Christopher Howson, is facing murder charges.
Lewisboro residents were shocked at the news that Sam Friedlander, 50, bludgeoned his wife, Amy, before shooting his two young children and committing suicide at their home in October 2011.
Safsel said many cases go unreported.
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 board.
“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.”