Hope and Resilience Long Island, a new Riverhead-based nonprofit, will provide legal aid services and more to victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and violence on the North Fork, Shelter Island and other East End communities.
Pamela Greinke founded the organization in April to help meet the increased need for services for those victims across the East End.
“This is my community and seeing the drastic increase in population even before COVID hit and then the additional drastic increase in population after COVID hit, I realized that there is more need,” said Ms. Greinke, the director of HARLI.
According to a press release by the organization, the five East End towns have seen an average of 27% growth based on 2020 census data, a rate nearly 10 times greater than the Suffolk County increase of 2.2 % or Long Island’s increase of 3.1%. Incidents of domestic abuse have reportedly increased by 8-12%, exacerbated by the pandemic, according to the organization.
“COVID itself can’t be used as an excuse, but the added stressors that COVID brought about with unemployment, with severe illness, with family members dying, that was a cause that would make someone maybe who’d been keeping themselves in check, cross that line into becoming an abuser,” Ms. Greinke said.
Although the population has grown, resources for victims of violence, domestic abuse and sexual assault haven’t kept up. According to the press release, a recent one-day survey of services in New York State indicated that 1,921 people, or nearly 20% of those seeking services, were denied due to lack of resources.
Ms. Greinke, a former director of legal advocacy for the East Hampton-based crisis outreach center, The Retreat, has 13 years of experience working with various different domestic violence agencies.
“And so, I decided, with my background and [the] experience that I have, that I could start a small nonprofit that would help to fill in the gaps, where people’s needs may not be being met,” she said.
The nonprofit provides legal advocacy by specialists trained in trauma informed care. Advocates will work with clients in the local family court to assist with obtaining orders of protection and help to navigate the system with other legal issues.
The organization also has case managers who will assist clients with housing issues, helping obtain medical care referrals, filing public assistance applications, crime victims compensation applications and more.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey shows one in four women and one in nine men reported being victims of sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner.
Intimate partner violence reports are most often made by heterosexual females, according to the press release. It is likely to be under-reported by men, people in same-sex partnerships and transgender or gender-nonconforming people.
“It is a community issue, it’s not her issue,” Ms. Greinke said. “It definitely is not a woman-only issue, because men are abused … it’s not just the issue that that person has to deal with because it affects the whole community. It just has this domino effect within the community, within the workplace.”
One of the organization’s goals is to tackle homelessness. 50% of U.S. cities surveyed reported that domestic violence is a primary cause of homelessness, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Our goal regarding homelessness would be to help people stay in their homes, by obtaining an order of protection; while the abuser has to leave and, with enough funding, we could financially assist those who need some assistance with the cost of moving into a safe rental,” she said in an email.
There are plans to do fundraising events, Ms. Greinke said. The funds would go toward private lawyers sometimes needed for certain cases and hiring dedicated full-time staff members, since most of the work in organization is currently being done by volunteers.
“I’m really hoping to have a few things set up for October because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, she said. “So I really want to have a concentrated effort there to have fundraising events and just community outreach events.”
The organization doesn’t currently have an office but anybody in need of services can contact Ms. Greinke at 631-408-6751 or [email protected].