Victim Services

Universal Response to Domestic Violence Project

The Universal Response to Domestic Violence Project seeks to develop and maintain a coordinated response to domestic violence through collaboration, problem solving and partnership between a variety of agencies in Dutchess County.  The Project’s Steering Committee consists of representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Office of Probation and Community Corrections, Department of Social Services, Family Court, City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department, City of Beacon Police Department, Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, Grace Smith House, Family Services Inc’s Domestic Violence Services, Family Services Inc’s Domestic Abuse Awareness Classes, House of Hope, Vassar Brothers Medical Center, Office of Mental Hygiene, and Legal Services.  The Universal Response to Domestic Violence Project employs a Project Coordinator who is the liaison between the various agencies and systems that deal with domestic violence to facilitate collaboration.  This innovative project was created in 1994.


Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART)

Domestic Abuse Response Team is a collaborative model project with Domestic Violence Services, Law Enforcement and the Dutchess County District Attorneys office to provide direct advocacy and services to victims of domestic violence within the criminal justice system. It is part of the Universal Domestic Violence Coordinated Response.

There are three DART jurisdictions in Dutchess County; City of PoughkeepsieTown of Poughkeepsie and the City of Beacon.

Each team works together to increase victim’s safety and offender accountability and address gaps in the system.  The teams are dedicated to providing comprehensive direct services to victims of domestic violence throughout Dutchess County.  Members of the team include, City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department, City of Beacon Police Department, the Dutchess County District Attorney’s office, Department of Probation and Community Corrections, Family Services, and other service providers based upon need. 


High Risk Case Management

The High Risk Case Management Project provides comprehensive case management to victims of domestic violence that are identified to be in a highly lethal situation. Victims are screened using research based lethality assessments and referred to the case management project based on the outcome. Any community agency can refer a victim to the project. Comprehensive case management includes frequent safety planning, counseling, and advocacy. The project also identifies system gaps and reports to the High Risk Team. The High Risk Team is a multi-disciplinary team that addresses highly lethal cases of domestic violence in Dutchess County with the goal of improving victim safety, offender accountability, and system response. 

The following checklist can help you answer this question.

Does the other person…

  • Put you down or call you bad names?
  • Shove, slap, or hit you?
  • Isolate you from family and friends by controlling what you do, who you talk to, and where you go?
  • Make all the decisions without asking you or letting you have a say?
  • Control all the money, including yours?
  • Control your access to transportation?
  • Accuse you of flirting or cheating with another person?
  • Tell you you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?
  • Withhold medication or equipment you need every day, such as eyeglasses, hearing aid, or wheelchair?
  • Force you to have sex when you don’t want to?
  • Destroy your property or threaten to harm your pets or service animals?
  • Intimidate you with guns, knives, or other weapons?
  • Threaten to kill you or themselves?
  • Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?

If you checked even one of these, you may be in an abusive relationship.  If you’d like more information or you need help, you can call us at (845) 485-5550.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (relationship abuse) is a systematic and progressive pattern of abusive behaviors that occur gradually, increase in frequency and severity over time, and are perpetrated intentionally by the abuser with the goal of gaining and maintaining power and coercive control over the victim.

Typically, the abusive behaviors take the form of varying levels and degrees of emotional, psychological, economic, sexual, and physical abuse.

Additionally, abusive relationships tend to be characterized by the batterer’s obsessive jealousy and attempts to isolate the victim from all outside sources of support and connection.

A Progressive Developmental Pattern


In the Beginning

The “Dream Relationship”

Abusers tend to be very attentive, very focused on the “relationship,” very interested in getting to know the other person (needs, likes, dislikes), on spending more and more time with them, and on becoming closer and becoming a couple. 



In the midst of FALLING IN LOVE and becoming a couple, the abuser slowly and progressively isolates the other person from family, friends, and all other social supports.

Examples: Uses guilt, bribes, excuses, or other manipulative techniques to keep them from their supports, and pays for everything so the victim becomes dependent on the abuser.


Emotional Abuse

Once some form of commitment occurs that indicates significant emotional investment, attachment, and permanence, the abuser begins to perpetrate various forms of emotional abuse.

Examples: Name calling, criticizing, degrading comments intended to tear away at the victim’s self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth.  Crazy-making


Psychological Abuse

The abuser will engage in threatening and destructive behaviors so as to generate a sense of danger to make the victim fearful of ever leaving the relationship.

Examples: Breaking things, throwing things, punching walls, driving recklessly, hurting or attacking pets, making threats to harm the victim or children if that person tries to leave or end the relationship.


A victim of domestic violence may be hesitant to talk about their situation for many reasons.  They may blame themselves, be afraid that disclosure will bring on further violence, minimize the violence for fear of losing their partner, be ashamed to admit that this is happening to them, or just think that no one cares.  Here are some ways of speaking to victims of abuse.


  • ask questions that will help them recognize what has happened to them and to identify it as abuse.
  • help them to recognize the excuses and understand that their words and actions do not justify violence.
  • assure them of confidentiality and ask permission to tell someone (authorities).  Suggest a hotline (Domestic Violence Services 24-hour hotline 845-485-5550).
  • support their courage in asking for help.  Help them see the risks of remaining in the relationship.


  • further victimize them by not listening or implying that they are foolish for staying in the relationship.
  • tell them ways to not provoke their partner.  This promotes feelings of self-blame.
  • speak to the two of them together.  This will make the victim more fearful of opening up.
  • speak to their partner without their permission.  You may be jeopardizing their safety and yours.
  • make them feel “controlled” by your desire for them to leave.  This decision should be made on their own.