Helping Domestic Violence Victims Find Shelter

Posted on: Thursday, June 17, 2010

Keywords: Queens domestic violence, domestic violence death, Safe Horizon shelters

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Queens Village, NY - Isaiah Smith, 48, of Queens Village, allegedly beat his live-in girlfriend to death, while his two children watched in horror.

On June 8 at approximately 9:54 p.m. police from the 105th Precinct responded to a call that a woman was unconscious at 89-26 214th St. Upon arrival the officers determined that Smith had struck the victim, Tiffany Pettiford, 28, multiple times with a blunt object.

EMS transported Pettiford to Queens Hospital Center in Jamaica, where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Smith is being charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

Smith, who had been convicted of raping a 10-year-old girl back in 1990, according to the Daily News, was jealous that Pettiford was seeing another man, the report said. But he may also have been angry that the woman had forgotten to purchase some beer on her trip to the market, the newspaper reported.

“Obviously he had a lot of issues,” said Nathalie Roy, housing specialist at the Allen Women’s Resource Center in Jamaica, a shelter for victims of domestic violence. “To me, it sounds like a jealousy issue. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it and if she didn’t comply then that was the end of her.”

One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and fe-males ages 20 to 24 are at the greatest risk for non-fatal forms of abuse, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Battering is often used by one person in an intimate relationship to establish power and control over another through fear, intimidation and violence. The pattern of behavior is the result of one person’s belief that he is entitled to control someone else.

Smith has a one-year-old son with Pettiford and a 10-year-old son with another woman, all of whom lived in the same basement apartment, according to the Daily News.

Witnessing violence between one’s parents is a key way such behavior is transmitted from one generation to the next. Boys who observe domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults, according to the NCADV.

“After a trauma of this sort, children are completely disoriented. It is a very delicate situation,” said Meera Kumar spokeswoman for Safe Horizon, an organization that helps victims of child abuse, domestic violence, rape and other violent crimes.

Roy advises victims who are trying to leave an abusive relationship to “have a safety plan ready” — that includes packing a bag with all the essential items they need, which they can “grab and run out.”

Next, she says, the victim should go to their local police precinct, which often has a domestic violence unit, and file a report. Roy also advises victims to contact Safe Horizon, which provides temporary residences to domestic violence victims with more than 425 beds available throughout the five boroughs.

“They don’t have to continue to let the abuse happen,” Roy said. “They are not alone. There is help out there.”

Each year Safe Horizon provides emergency shelter to more than 3,100 children and families fleeing domestic violence. Its shelters offer comprehensive services including counseling, housing assistance, life skills and parenting courses, childcare, medical aid and job training programs.

Safe Horizon suggests the following tips for victims of domestic violence. If you are in danger, call 911. If you have an order of protection, keep it with you at all times. If you are in an apartment, stay out of the kitchen or bathroom.

Individuals can ask a neighbor to call the police if they hear something suspicious. They can also teach their children to call the police or fire department. If someone feels that he or she will be harassed at work, the group says to give the boss a photo of the person and ask that he or she not be allowed in the building.

“Our primary goal is to make sure that our clients are safe in a way that makes them comfortable,” Kumar said. “We don’t force them to do anything.”

Victims can contact the national domestic violence hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233).
   Signs of abuse

You may be in an abusive elationship if your partner:
   Criticizes or insults you constantly
   Calls you names
   Exhibits extreme jealousy
   Threatens to hurt you, your children, family or pets
   Breaks your things
   Takes your money
   Punches, slaps, kicks or shoves you
   Stops you from going out
   Forces you to have sex
   Calls or follows you
   Interferes with your work or schooling.
   Information provided by Safe Horizon

by AnnMarie Costella
Queens Chronicle Reporter
"Cops: Man Beat Woman to Death"

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