I’m a survivor of domestic violence. I grew up in Valley Cottage, Rockland County, an only child in an upper middle class family – certainly privileged, with two loving parents, a large family and a wonderful network of friends. Never did I think I’d be a statistic. Never did I think did that I would become so entrenched in the complex and grossly misunderstood cycle of domestic violence that I would be beaten unconscious, left with permanent physical injuries and a single mother fighting to protect her son. Never could I have guessed that my strong willed, independent nature would fall prey to a master manipulator, a charismatic narcissist, a local college professor who would stop at nothing to destroy me. No one would have ever imagined that my life would be forever changed by domestic violence.
Though, my experience with the Family Court system was the exception and the outcome for my son and I, favorable, the reality that the system is abhorrently broken, wasn’t lost on me. The laws are antiquated, and domestic violence is still very much a taboo topic that makes many too uncomfortable, to take action publicly.
I met with Senator David Carlucci and several other legislators in the Spring of 2018. I shared my story, I shared grotesque images of the abuse I had endured, I shared pictures of my happy son, whom I was fighting to protect. I proposed legislation that would mandate judges to take certain protective actions with regards to the safety and wellbeing of children who are victims of domestic violence. When I looked around the room, I could tell David was affected. But, I wasn’t sure if that would result in action.
Many shied away from the proposed legislation; it wasn’t going to be an easy bill to pass, it would be the first of its kind, groundbreaking within the family court system. I heard time and again, from legislators that they just were not willing to take on the challenge. I was told that domestic violence didn’t fit their agenda for the year. Despite the sobering statistics of children murdered because of the failings of the family court, it still wasn’t a topic that lawmakers wanted to take the lead on. They offered to support the bill, but they would not sponsor it. David didn’t hesitate to get to work. He met with me more times than I can remember. He reassured me that we were in this together. We wrote draft after draft until the bill was strong. David exceeded my expectations with additions to the bill to ensure that it wasn’t just “another piece of legislation” to be touted but that it would in fact be a law that changed the systematic, deadly injustices within the family court. He promised to be a voice for victims, a leader for survivors and that he would take on the battle to protect children. He made good on every promise.
Together, we worked with News 12 on a months long investigation, a 3-part series on the failings of the family court system. “It’s about time we give more rights to the survivors of domestic violence. A makeover of the laws is long overdue. There is a public health emergency and the alarms should be ringing but unfortunately, I don’t think they are.” David has continued to sound the alarms.
Two years later, we’re still working on this legislation, he hasn’t given up. He has spoken with passion at press conferences about a topic that has never affected his life, personally. His support gave me back my voice. We have worked together, every step of the way. David Carlucci has been the consummate example of how our lawmakers should work with their constituency. His advocacy has been genuine. When I see him in the community, he knows my name. He knows my son’s name.
Now, more than ever, we needs leaders in Washington who aren’t afraid to tackle the issues that are controversial; who aren’t afraid to be a voice for the oppressed; who use their positions of power to lead, to evoke change that will serve the communities they represent. And, while his leadership in the NYS Senate will undoubtedly be a loss, David Carlucci has my endorsement for Congress – because I want, what we all should want, someone in Congress who will represent our voices with authenticity, passion and conviction.