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Orchard Park slaying highlighted in discussion of domestic violence

Last week's slaying of Aasiya Zubair Hassan in the Orchard Park offices of the television channel she operated with her husband underscores the seriousness of domestic violence, social service officials emphasized Friday.

Linda Ray, executive director of the Family Justice Center of Erie County, noted that 7,130 cases of domestic violence were reported last year in Erie County, and the number of incidents are estimated at 49,000 a year.

During a breakfast gathering Friday in the Family Justice Center, 237 Main St., Ray told elected officials that only one in seven cases of domestic violence is reported to authorities.

Ray said "times of economic crisis" -- with fewer resources and available jobs -- "make it even harder for [victims] and their children to flee abusive situations."

"With one in four women and one in nine men experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes, this is an issue that touches the lives of almost all Western New Yorkers in some way, and we need to educate our elected officials on the seriousness of this problem," she said.

Julie A. Doerr, the Family Justice Center's community relations manager, said the Orchard Park slaying magnified the seriousness of the problem, which grows worse as the nation sinks into recession.

Ray and Doerr said that of last year's reported incidents of domestic violence in Erie County, 2,231 occurred in Buffalo and 4,899 in other parts of the county.

Both noted that of the Family Justice Center's 2,880 clients since May 2006, 13 percent are men, and 73 percent come from families with annual incomes of $16,000 or less.

The center's $700,000 operating budget funds a one-stop service center in downtown Buffalo that offers a variety of assistance. The organization gets funds through the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, Erie County, state and federal agencies and private donations.

The center also has a working relationship with 11 government agencies dealing with domestic violence issues, including the Buffalo Police Department and Erie County district attorney's office.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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