Majority Leader Farías Introduces City Legislation Moving the Needle on DV/TBI Awareness

The new bill introduced by New York City Council Majority Leader Amanda Farías would require the City to train first responders and service providers about the connection between domestic violence and traumatic brain injury.


NEW YORK, February 8, 2024A new bill introduced today by New York City Council Majority Leader Amanda Farías is the first legislative action resulting from VOA-GNY’s innovative pilot program addressing the link between domestic violence and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Since the launch of the initiative, a partnership with Safe Living Space, in 2022, more than 400 survivors in VOA-GNY’s seven domestic violence shelters have been screened for potential brain injury. A staggering 57% have reported at least one injury to the head or neck within the last year. The program is the first of its kind in the United States.

Farías’s bill, Int. No. 29, would require New York City to provide training to first responders and service providers about the connection between domestic violence and traumatic brain injury. Trainings would include education on the prevalence of TBI among domestic violence survivors, how to identify symptoms of TBI, how to respond to the needs of individuals with TBI, and the long-term health impacts of repeated brain injuries.

If passed, the law would also require the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence to conduct a public awareness campaign on the connection between domestic violence and TBI.

For too long, survivors have been left to navigate a confusing constellation of symptoms like frequent headaches, sensitivity to light, or difficulty regulating emotions—often mischaracterized as being caused by behavioral health issues, anxiety, or substance use, rather than potential brain injury. These symptoms can negatively impact a survivor’s credibility in the eyes of law enforcement, as well as their ability to navigate the child welfare system, secure and maintain employment and housing, and meet other basic needs.

This bill serves as an important legislative first step in the vital effort to bring awareness to the connection between domestic violence and traumatic brain injury, improve services for survivors, and equip them with the information they need to seek care and get back on their feet.

Int. No. 29 is also sponsored by Council Members Farah Louis (District 45) and James Gennaro (District 24).

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About Volunteers of America-Greater New York

Volunteers of America-Greater New York (VOA-GNY) is an anti-poverty organization with a rich 125-year history of serving its neighbors in need. The organization’s vision is fueled by its experience as a leading provider of services to families and individuals experiencing homelessness in the greater New York area. Through more than 65 programs located in New York City, Northern New Jersey, and Westchester County—including emergency shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing—VOA-GNY delivers services to more than 30,000 adults and children annually. It is also the largest provider of residential services for veterans within a coalition that has virtually ended chronic homelessness for veterans in New York City. Recently, the VOA-GNY board of directors adopted a strategic plan with the goal to end homelessness in Greater New York by 2050.

Media Contact:

Rochelle Heinrichs, AVP of Marketing & Communications
rheinrichs@voa-gny.org
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