Nonprofits are working toward creating stronger support for females.
L.I. Against Domestic Violence provides a range of services to Long Island adults and children, helping them escape from abusive relationships and build new lives. I-tri girls, a free program, works to raise the self-esteem of middle school-aged girls on the Island’s East End by training them for a triathlon.
“[We need] to bring young girls into this discussion and to recognize that this isn’t just happening to us in our 20s and 30s and 40s, but this is happening to our 10-year-olds and our 12-year-olds, it’s so important,”
said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of i-tri girls.
Many of the children in the program don’t know how to swim or ride a bike.
“We not only teach them how to set a goal, but we teach them how to work toward a goal,” Morris said. “And when you have done something that you think is impossible once, you are so likely to see yourself capable of doing that [again].”
Bethpage-based The Safe Center LI, Islandia-based Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk, and The Suffolk County Crime Victims Center all work to help victims of domestic abuse.
County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said nonprofits are vital in educating young people and women. Many provide educational programs in schools.
“Women and children should not be afraid to speak up,” Anker said. “I think it’s really important presentations start in schools.”
Executive director of LIADV, Colleen Merlo, said in a phone interview local legislators are receptive to receiving advice on taking measures to end domestic and sexual abuse.
“This is the start of what’s going to be a years-long process to try to bring Long Island to a place that really is safe,” Merlo said. “Where men and women can feel safe from sexual assault. It’s going to take more work.”
• L.I. Against Domestic Violence — www.liadv.org / 631-666-7181
• i-tri girls — itrigirls.org / 631-902-3731
• Suffolk County Crime Victims Center — www.parentsformeganslaw.org / 631-689-2672
• The Safe Center LI — www.tscli.org / 516-465-4700
• Victims Information Bureau — www.vibs.org / 631-360-3730