Family Justice Center executive director to Join Congressman Higgins for award presentation in Washington, D.C., during Crime Victims' Rights Week
Erie County Family Justice Center Executive Director Mary Travers Murphy will receive a national award from the U.S. Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus at a ceremony on Capitol Hill during National Crime Victim's Rights Week (April 19-25). Congressman Brian Higgins nominated Travers Murphy for the Ed Stout Memorial Award for Outstanding Victim Advocacy. She will travel to Washington, D.C., to accept one of five awards presented nationwide.
"We are proud to recognize the work of Mary Travers Murphy and the Family Justice Center of Erie County," Higgins said. "Victims and survivors of abuse endure the unthinkable, but efforts made by Mary and the Family Justice Center are giving people protection, hope and a way forward. This award recognizes Mary's sincere commitment to public awareness, expanded outreach, easy access to services, and work to find innovative solutions for those affected by domestic violence."
The Family Justice Center of Erie County opened in 2006, providing a one-stop center for women and children to access free services. The Western New York location was chosen as one of 15 sites in the U.S. awarded funding through the Department of Justice.
In 2010, Travers Murphy was named executive director. Under her leadership, the Family Justice Center expanded its reach beyond the urban center to provide satellite offices in the northern and southern suburbs. The Family Justice Center's success is bolstered by collaboration with more than a dozen partner agencies providing one easy access point for individuals to receive comprehensive assistance.
Travers Murphy also is working with law enforcement and the Erie County Family Court to provide onsite video conferencing services at the Family Justice Center satellite sites to allow victims to receive an order of protection the same day he/she asks for help.
As the former supervisor of the Town of Orchard Park, Travers Murphy received a call in 2009 from local law enforcement informing her resident Aasiya Hassan was beheaded by her husband, Muzzamil Hassan. In a trial following her death, it was revealed Aasiya reported her husband's abuse on several occasions and received an order of protection, but did not have the resources to leave her home or the access to legal counsel to enforce the restraining order.
Law enforcement officials in Erie County alone receive 14,000 domestic violence calls annually, but only one in seven victims presses charges and seeks an order of protection. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states more than 10 million people are physically abused by a partner annually.
Higgins is a member of the bipartisan U.S. congressional victims' rights caucus, co-chaired by Rep. Ted Poe of Texas and Rep. Jim Costa of California. The caucus has been involved in protecting and advocating for policies and programs that support victim services, including the Victims of Crime Act, Violence Against Women Act, Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting Act. Since 2006, the caucus has recognized five individuals annually who have made a difference in the lives of crime victims, survivors and those who serve them.
The Family Justice Center of Erie County is located on Main Street in Buffalo with satellite offices in Orchard Park and Amherst. To reach the center, call 716-558-SAFE (7233).