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Domestic Violence

Statement on Domestic Violence Services active during COVID-19 Crisis

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of intentional, coercive behaviors that may include verbal, physical, sexual, financial and/or emotional abuse directed against current or former spouses/partners, parents, children or any family member, in order to establish and maintain power and control.

Some behaviors in this pattern are clearly criminal acts. Other behaviors are not necessarily illegal but are abusive and controlling, designed to intimidate or instill fear.

Victims of domestic abuse come from every culture, income group, age, and religion. They frequently share feelings of isolation, guilt, fear, shame, and helplessness. Intervention by the criminal justice system is often necessary, and, with support, victims can emerge as survivors.

Does your partner or family member:

  • Threaten or intimidate you, your children, or your pets?
  • Become extremely jealous or overprotective?
  • Destroy personal property?
  • Call you names or make fun of you?
  • Treat your roughly - grab, push, punch, shove, kick, or hit you?
  • Pressure you sexually?
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for his/her behavior?

If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, you are at risk of being a victim of domestic violence.


  • 4.5 million women report being abused every year in the United States.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women aged 15 - 44, more common than car accidents, mugging, and cancer deaths combined.

In April 1998, New York State passed legislation addressing the problem of domestic violence. Caseworkers in the Domestic Violence Unit assess claims of domestic violence made by welfare applicants &/or recipients to determine credibility, and to what extent the individual's safety would be jeopardized by fulfilling employment, paternity, child support, spousal support, or other welfare reform requirements.

These specially trained DV liaisons assist victims in gaining safety and independence from their abuser, whose control is often financial as well as physical.

The DV liaisons are also a resource for other county governmental divisions, and monitor the contacts of private agencies providing counseling and other non-residential domestic violence services.

For further information, contact the Domestic Violence Unit at (716) 858-6118. The unit's new fax number is 858-6136.

Your call is confidential.


Effective April 2024, Erie County has made available various resources to residents who are at risk of experiencing, or have experienced, instances of domestic/sexual violence. As part of a newly constructed site through the Health Department, residents are able to have the options of calling, texting or having live chat with staff from both the New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline and/or the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Calling Option -- 1-800-942-6906 -- NY State; 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) -- National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Texting Option -- 844-997-2121 -- NY State; Text "START" 88788 -- National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Live Chat -- Click Here to chat with a representative from NY State, 24/7; Click Here to chat with a representative from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

To view the newly constructed site and its information, visit

Domestic Violence Permanent Tribute Will Honor Victims and Celebrate Survivors

ECDSS is part of a community effort to plan for a permanent and public tribute that will honor fallen victims and survivors, while also raising awareness of domestic violence.  The Erie County Commission on the Status of Women is leading this ambitious community effort, entitled “Celebrating Life Through Awareness, Hope & Healing.”  Many community volunteers have come together to develop ideas and plan logistics for the permanent tribute, and suggestions have included a tree grove or garden that would be a “quiet place where one can reflect on the journey and where those who could not make the passage are remembered always for their sacrifice,” according to one committee member.

DSS, Child & Family Services Collaborate on Initiative

In July 2014, it was announced that ECSS would collaborate with Child & Family Services of Erie County on an initiative to improve service delivery to families experiencing both domestic violence and child abuse. View Erie County's press release describing the collaborative initiative.

*Effective late March 2023, the Domestic Violence unit of the Erie County Department of Social Service re-located to the fourth floor of the Rath Building, after having previously been located on the 11th floor. Those seeking assistance with Domestic Violence unit cases are directed to enter the building at the 158 Pearl St. entrance.