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.