Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Empowerment Workshop for Women

On Saturday, May 16th Women Against Violence will host a free Empowerment Workshop for Women. The workshop will include a presentation on Financial Empowerment by Allstate and Safety and Self Defense instruction by “Cookie” Melendez a 7th degree black belt martial artist and self defense expert.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Canteena Restaurant located at 8801 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Space is limited. Register by calling 718.748.1234 or visting

Monday, May 11, 2009

Liz Gassimi Reviews V-Day Performance in The Home Reporter

Arts & Entertainment
Home Reporter and Sunset News
By Liz Gassimi

Restaurants open so often in this neighborhood that a lazy stroll down Bay Ridge’s Restaurant Row (otherwise known as Third Avenue) usually yields some new culinary discovery. Whatever your pleasure – Thai, Japanese, French – Bay Ridge has it all! My personal philosophy is that a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that looks intriguing can often be a good bet. The little place becomes “mine,” until eventually, of course, it gets discovered by the rest of the chowhounds in the immediate area, and pretty soon there’s a line outside and so much for “my” little getaway. The next time you’re in the mood for some very sabroso Mexican food, stop by Mandato. The place sports a jukebox that blares Mexican cumbia and ranchero music, replete with “Yay-yay ya yays,” which will serenade you as you dig into some of the tastiest tacos, enchiladas, and taquitos that you’ve ever had. Ask for the freshly-made agua fresca – fruit juice mixed with ice and water for a refreshing and cooling treat. Even the taco chips and homemade salsa are wonderful and will whet your palace for the spicy fiesta that is to follow. Mandato is at 7218 Third Ave., 718-492-4228.
In this column, I’ve mentioned before the wonderful work that Dr. Nicoletta Pallotta does with her organization, Women Against Violence, through Brooklyn Women’s Services. They help provide a support system for women who are in, or have been in, abusive environments. They can help with counseling, and educating women to stop being victims of violence, and they recently helped sponsor a performance of playwright Eve Ensler’s “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” at New Utrecht High School. The show consists of a series of performers standing, one at a time, on a bare stage, reading a monologue into a single microphone. Each monologue is a few minutes long, and there is no scenery or costumes to distract the viewer from what’s being read. The result is that you focus entirely on the text. You listen, you concentrate, you are swept away in the moment. Some of the monologues describe abuse; some are happy; some are na├»ve; and some describe violence that makes you cringe. The factual, dispassionate way these monologues are delivered is part of what makes them so strong. Yes, the actors convey the fear or shame contained in the words, but even the shameful stories are told. We want to turn away from a monologue about rape, or a beating, but we cannot. What we must do is turn the shame of abuse away from the women, and back on to the perpetrators of these violent acts. We must re-educate our societies, and this is what shows like “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” are about: raising consciousness. Masterfully directed by Daniella Sanson, and featuring a cast drawn from Brooklyn locals including Anthony Rinaldi of The Pearl Room, the show was a tremendous success and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Other actors featured were: Alexia Tolomello, Jason Bellido, and Virginia Cantone. Karen Emma performed on the piano, and singer Wendy St. Kitts opened up with a powerful rendition of “Women Empowered.” You can contact Women Against Violence at Brooklyn Women’s Services is at 9201 Fourth Ave., 718-748-1234.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hyer-Spencer: Assembly Passes Legislation To Expand Protections for Domestic Violence Victims

Hyer-Spencer: Assembly Passes Legislation To Expand Protections for Domestic Violence Victims
by Brooklyn Eagle (, published online 04-30-2009

Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer announced that the Assembly passed several of the bills she sponsored to help protect victims of domestic violence.
“I have been a strong advocate for victims of domestic violence,” Hyer-Spencer said. “This issue affects many people, and it is our responsibility to put protections in place to prevent these heinous crimes from happening.”

Domestic violence is not just assault; these crimes create devastating physical, emotional, psychological and financial problems for victims. Victims of domestic violence require special measures to protect them from their abusers and to help them heal.

The Assembly passed a package of bills that would:

• Grant victims of domestic or sexual violence 90 days of unpaid leave from their employment during any 12-month period in order to resolve related legal issues and seek the proper care — and entitle employees to return to the same position (A.438-B)

• Prohibit employers from discriminating against victims of domestic violence or stalking (A.755-A)

• Prohibit housing discrimination against domestic violence victims by forbidding landlords and sellers of property from denying an individual the right to purchase, rent, lease or inhabit housing because of involvement in a domestic dispute (A.1055-A)

• Require criminal or family court judges to inquire about the defendant’s or respondent’s possession of a firearm when orders of protection are sought (A.4320-A)

• Establish an address confidentiality program for domestic violence victims, allowing the Department of State to accept victims’ mail on their behalf to keep their location unknown to their abusers (A.2858-B)

• Provide for the tolling of the duration of an order of protection issued for non-felony cases from the time of a defendant’s release from incarceration (A.5705)

• Allow domestic abuse victims who have an order of protection to obtain an unlisted telephone number without charge (A.6509)

• Make it illegal for an individual to possess a firearm if he or she has committed a family offense (A.7575-A).

“As the former legal director of My Sister’s Place, a non-profit organization that helps victims of domestic violence, I’ve seen the devastating effects these crimes have on families,” says Hyer-Spencer. “These bills continue my commitment to reducing domestic violence in New York State.”

In addition Assemblywoman Hyer-Spencer is currently sponsoring two pieces of legislation that will further protect victims of domestic violence by:

• Allowing the use of closed-circuit television for the testimony of domestic violence victim witnesses in a criminal proceeding

• Providing unemployment insurance to survivors of domestic violence.

V-Day Brooklyn 2009 Great Success

Photo courtesy of Georgine Benevenuto.

Women Against Violence (WAV) a violence prevention organization located in Bay Ridge sponsored a local production of Eve Ensler’s “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” at New Utrecht High School on Thursday, April 23, 2009. The production was a part of V-Day 2009 a global movement to end violence against women and girls and an effort to raise money for local domestic violence organizations. The show was produced by New Utrecht High School alum, Virginia Cantone and the cast was comprised of a diverse group of men, women and teenagers from the community including Anthony Rinaldi, Executive Chef of The Pearl Room; Mr. Harrigan, Principal of P.S. 229 and Mr. Jason Jacobs, teacher at New Utrecht High School and head of the school’s domestic violence committee. The monologues addressed the issues surrounding violence against women including domestic and cultural brutalities, objectification and peer abuse; they were written by authors such as Maya Angelou, Jane Fonda, Susan Miller, Dave Eggers and Kathy Najimy. Over 100 members of the community turned out to support the event including Councilman Vincent Gentile and Assemblyman Peter j Abbate, Jr. All proceeds from the this V-Day 2009 event benefitted Women Against Violence, Women of Democratic Republic of Congo, Safe Horizon, Voices of Women Organizing Project and Day One.

Monday, April 13, 2009


A Benefit Production of Eve Ensler’s
Thursday, April 23, 2009 – 7:00pm
Consider sponsorship of this important event. Your sponsorship will help
Women Against Violence, Women of Democratic Republic of Congo, Day One and Safe Horizons.

Sponsorship Amount Entitles Your Company To
$100 Full page ad, Tabletop display in the lobby
$50 1/2 page ad
$25 1 business card ad
Freedom Space – Journal ads can be used to write a letter, poem or sentiment to a domestic violence
survivor or victim.
***Artwork Deadline is April 18th***
Please make checks payable to: Women Against Violence
Sofia Pallotta
Women Against Violence
c/o Brooklyn Women’s Services
9201 Fourth Avenue, 2nd floor
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Or email to:,or call 718-943-3380

Brooklyn Women's Services

Brooklyn Women's Services
(click here to link to Brooklyn Women's Services wesite)

Longtime Brooklyn Activist Leads New Task Force

Photo courtesy: Georgine Benvenuto

Seated at left is Dr. Nicoletta Pallotta, Founder of Women Against Violence, a Brooklyn-based violence prevention organization.
Seated at right is Brooklyn’s Deputy Borough President Yvonne J. Graham.
Behind them stands community leaders making up the Teen Violence Task Force.

Teen Dating Violence Seen as Skyrocketing
by Harold Egeln (, published online 04-13-2009

Longtime Brooklyn Activist Leads New Task Force
By Harold Egeln
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BAY RIDGE — The leaders and staff of Women Against Violence, with offices based in Bay Ridge, have seen the terrible results of domestic violence and have worked to prevent and repair the damage it has caused to people’s lives for over a decade.

Now Dr. Nicoletta Pallotta, founder and chairperson of the violence prevention and intervention organization at 9201 Fourth Ave. and director of Brooklyn Women’s Services, a Maimonides Medical Center affiliate, has been tapped to lead the new Borough President’s Task Force on Teen Violence. “The ultimate goal of the task force is to reduce the intimate partner violence among teens by encouraging real changes in behavior,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz. “We need to teach all of our kids at as young an age as possible that violence is never an acceptable response.”

The first meeting of the task force was held recently at Borough Hall with two dozen Brooklyn social service agencies, chaired by Dr. Pallotta, calling the teen years “an extraordinary vulnerable time.” A follow-up organizational meeting is planned for May 5.

“I am honored to serve as chair of this special task force and as the borough president’s liaison with Brooklyn’s community leaders,” said Dr. Pallotta. “It has been my longtime goal to stop the cycle of violence and abuse. This task force is an important step towards the youth of Brooklyn staying free of violence in all aspects of their life.”

“Teen abuse incidents are on the rise in New York City and appear to be increasing as more harassment, name-calling and ridicule are taking place on the internet and by cell phone,” Markowitz noted. “Teens are embarrassed to admit they are being mistreated. Therefore, abuse goes unnoticed by parents, teachers and counselors.”

The number of teen calls to the city’s Domestic Violence Hotline has risen dramatically, from 9,462 in 2006 up to 16,861 in 2007. Women, ages 20 to 24, are at the greatest risk of nonfatal partner violence. In the city in 2007, according to the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, 11 percent of high school students reported being hit, slapped, or physically injured by a boy or girl friend.

Dating, Internet and Cell Phone Abuse Up

Not only are dating abuse and violence getting worse and rising, but also abuse through the Internet, Facebook and cell phones. Name-calling, putdowns and mean remarks through these venues are not being fully reported, The New York Times noted in a study recently.

“Technology has made abuse more pervasive and hidden,” Dr. Pallotta stated in her Borough Hall presentation. “Teens believe that dating abuse is a serious problem, but teens are typically not telling their parents. The result is a knowledge gap has opened between the frequency of abusive tech behavior parents are aware of and what is really going on.”

Therefore, parents do not intercede, she said, leaving teens vulnerable without primary support and guidance. The task force will work to remedy this.

A goal is to increase awareness about teen violence by focusing attention, Markowitz said, and educating teens, civic leaders and parents on how to address this subject “to stop the cycle of violence and abuse.” Ways include, he said, community outreach, research, advocacy, education, publicity, intervention and training.

The recent much-publicized case of singer Rihanna being attacked by boyfriend Chris Brown was cited by Deputy Borough President Yvonne Graham as an example of intimate partner violence. With Rihanna reportedly returning to Brown, Graham said that the case “highlights the complex emotional dynamics of both victim and abuser” that need to be understood and addressed in order for the task force to do its job successfully.

“It is our hope that the Brooklyn Task Force on Teenage Violence can help empower our youth,” said Graham. “First by identifying the different forms that abuse can take and then reaching out to those affected and connecting them to the resources they need to combat violence.”

“The task force will look for ways to provide education of teens, their parents and teachers,” said Sofia Pallotta, executive director of Women Against Violence and Dr. Pallotta’s niece. “The task force aims to pool the community social services’ resources, offer more teen rap sessions for talking about problems, and prepare intervention and proactive programs which may employ making videos or creating performance pieces.”