Support servces for an isolated woman with family violence New York
November 24, 2014 11:42 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a family member: I'm a distressed brother living in Australia with no experience of US family violence, health systems, judiciary, police or addiction services. Please help. My sister "Pas" lives in Wood Side Queens, New York. She is a single woman and works as a nanny for the moment. She speaks very good English and is independent. Yesterday, whilst visiting an aunt who is very sick with cancer in New York, she was attacked by the aunt's son without any provocation. (Under influence? not sure).

He smashed Pas's cell phone, dragged her to the floor and kicked her in the chest. Naturally, my sister who doesn't accept violence, promptly called the police (and ambulance) and he is on the run ever since. She was injured, but chose not to go to hospital because of the cost.

My question is what kind of support can my sister avail in New York under such circumstances and if aunt's family can also seek external support during such times. This is because the attacker's sister and sick mum were in the vicinity only watched without doing any intervention. Too scared to do so? I don't know.

Further, while on the run he also followed with text threats to my sister saying he will come after her and destroy her life.

I am very worried about my sister. This is because her attacker is aware where my sister lives and who she lives with (only flatmates). What can my sister do immediately to secure her safety and in the long term protect herself from such attacks. And also to get help for the violent (drug dependent??) son, his mum and sister.

Any help is appreciated

throw away email address

Added thoughts from myself (Taff):

There is pressure from the mum and sister to withdraw charges. I'm Australian and here that's not possible. Violence is prosecuted by the government.... yes, it's an assault against a person... but in this case in Australia it's a crime to the state and the state prosecutes to stop exactly this kind of pressure. Is that the case in America/New York?

Pas speaks excellent English and has an MBA but is probably not hooked in with the level of privilege and confidence you'd often expect at that level of education. (She has never found work outside nannying in the US despite her MBA and high intellect). She has a green card, and is believed to have citizenship.

In addition.... we don't know for sure if drugs are involved, but it sounds like it. He's certainly had a hard upbringing and has struggled since moving to the States. He's had small run-ins with the police from time to time, but we don't know the details. Nobody in the family will judge him if he is in fact suffering from a drug problem. He will be loved and supported but everyone is out of their depth. Culturally they're focused on forgiveness and compassion and that's where everyone is coming from. But he's violent, threatening and dangerous right now so that must be a priority.

I have no idea how much info to give or to suggest to give but I can easily add more if you ask. And this could be a human relations tag, a health tag or a law and government tag.... in the most urgent sense I prioritised law but please accept that all three categories are equally relevant. /Taff talking.
posted by taff to Law & Government (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One resource is the group Safe Horizon, a national victim assistance organization. You can find their website here or your sister can call 800-621-4673 (call is free). It sounds like their legal services page may be particularly relevant here.

The Battered Women's Resource Center is a NYC-specific organization and maintains a list of resources/help for victims of violence.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:25 AM on November 25, 2014

Anti-Violence Project has a 24 hour hotline. They do a lot of work in the LGBT community, but they will help anyone, and are very, very good.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:48 AM on November 25, 2014

You say Pas speaks very good English, implying that it is not her first language. In addition to the other resources listed here, it might be helpful to know her language/culture of origin, because there may be additional resources within that particular cultural community here in NYC.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:16 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

My first thought is a restraining order. The police should be able to connect her with some sort of victims advocate who may be able to help guide her to resources and options. Also in the US she will need to press charges as far as I can tell - and she should! This man sounds like a hazard and could murder his mother or someone else.
posted by Toddles at 4:55 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

If she really does have a green card, she should get health insurance. It's very affordable in the US right now, but it's a new process and there's a great deal of confusion around it. Perhaps someone in NYC can chime in with resources. All I can think is to call 311, ask the local library, and, if she got her job through an agency, to ask them.
posted by lesli212 at 5:33 AM on November 25, 2014

Is aunt also being abused? The NYC department of Social services # is 718-557-1399
posted by brujita at 6:06 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't call this family violence, although that may be a good route for support. This is plain assault. As far as pressing charges and seeking protection, she should address this as if a complete stranger who had access to her at her job attacked her and is now stalking her - that's what happened.

My sense is that US Law enforcement will take that narrative more seriously.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

Brief point: be sure to keep the text messages!!
posted by aramaic at 6:51 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

It also sounds like this aunt may be a victim of elder abuse and your sister Pas should reach out to the NYC Elder Abuse Center.

And here is information on how to get an order of protection in New York City.

Have your sister contact Legal Aid so she can get the advice of a lawyer.
posted by brookeb at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Good gravy, don't let her back down on filing charges against this jerk. He certainly needs to be restrained. If he's that vicious, she needs to be very careful and protective of her rights and her person. Also send her a copy of Gift of Fear.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:25 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

If your sister needs health insurance, she can get it even if she's undocumented. Send her to Community Health Advocates, who will set her up with a free or low-cost plan. They should have a location in Queens.

Is your aunt in the hospital or at home? If hospital, perhaps you can tell her to talk to security or the nurses on the floor to make sure this guy isn't allowed back. If at home, I think your sister needs to prioritize her safety and say she can't visit regularly -- and definitely not unless she is certain this guy won't be there. My guess is the other family members didn't help her because they were terrified, and I think characterizing this as elder abuse will get your family help the quickest.

As far as your sister's safety, an order of protection will not be as effective as other changes to her routine. Can one of her housemates walk with her to and from the subway? Can she avoid places where this guy hangs out? Can she get some pepper spray?

Sorry, it must be horrible to watch this play out at a distance.
posted by amicus at 10:28 PM on November 25, 2014

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