Under-reporting of domestic violence puts nonprofits helping survivors at risk

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Every nine seconds a woman is beaten or assaulted by a current or past partner. One in seven men will experience significant other violence. Many abuse victims will never speak about it.

A nonprofit in New York City dedicated to supporting survivors of abuse said they are facing increasing challenges as they try to help victims.

"350,000 New Yorkers are experiencing intimate partner violence each year," Niketa Sheth, Executive Director of Womankind, formerly the New York Asian Women's Center, said.

She said nonprofits like Womankind are struggling to pay staffers and keep programs running because 80 percent of domestic violence action are not reported.

"Because a lot of our funding is government supported, we do not actually receive the funding support unless we serve a certain number of clients so it's creating a strain on our organization to survive," Sheth said.

The day 7 On Your Side visited the charity's headquarters downtown, counselors who speak 18 different languages on the 24-hour crisis helpline, 1-888-888-7702, were talking about how to increase outreach to families.

"We see children witnessing violence at home and also experiencing intimate partner violence as well," said Suyoung Jung, who oversees Womankind's children and elder abuse programs and has seen an uptick in child human-trafficking -- she says because of the current political climate, children of immigrants are especially vulnerable. "Because of their poverty and immigration situations, we are seeing a lot of children from different cultures, they are forced and coerced to work."

Instead of seeking protection at one of three protective family shelters or "havens" -- Womankind operates at undisclosed locations -- families are instead suffering in silence.

And because they're not seeking help, the need for private and corporate donations is even more critical to keep the doors open.

"Just this year we lost funding for food for one of our homes that houses over 20 women every six months, so that house has no access to food unless we find other sources to pay for it," Sheth said.

WABC-TV is proud to partner with Womankind, supporting this nonprofit for almost two decades. We are the exclusive media sponsor the annual gala next Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at Chelsea Piers. Click here for tickets and information on how to support survivors and their families.

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