Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson poses with Bronx residents at a domestic violence event. Photo by Eileen Street.

Cesar Talor grew up with domestic violence. The 46-year-old said he was a “witness” to it, watching his father abuse his mother. So when his girlfriend invited him to the sixth annual “5K Run/Walk/Roll to End Domestic Violence,” put on by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, it was a no brainer. 

“It felt great, and I want it to grow! I want to participate, not only just this year, but next year, and then get involved with other things that might help the cause as well,” said Talor, who lives on the Upper West Side.

The Saturday event was held, rain or shine, on East 161st Street next to Lou Gehrig Plaza, near Yankee Stadium. Despite mostly rain, Talor, his girlfriend, and her friend, Wanda Suero, crossed the 5K finish line, flanked by purple and white balloons, after one hour and seven minutes of walking. Purple is the color used for domestic violence awareness.

“From the stories that you hear, it’s everyday, everywhere, not just in the Bronx,” said Suero, who lives in Bronx’s Mount Hope neighborhood. “There are people that are having a lot of issues, especially co-workers. We don’t know what our co-workers are going through,” she added.

This was Suero’s third year participating in the race. Her first year, she walked solo. Last year, the 53-year-old walked with Talor’s girlfriend. This year, she walked with her two friends and had two more friends come from Harlem to cheer from the sidelines. 

While a DJ blasted music near the start and finish line, over a dozen booths, from the New York Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit to non-profits such as Pillars of Peace, offered resources and information about what domestic violence is, what the signs of it are, and how to get help. 

“Growing up, it would have been nice to see some of these outreach tables in the neighborhoods because that probably would have helped, you know, younger kids to come forward and possibly help them a lot sooner,” Talor said, referring to domestic violence they may be witnessing in their home, like he did as a kid. 

Suero collected just over two dozen pamphlets and has plans to discuss them on her podcast, Salty Coffee.

Adrienne Giunta with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office told the Mott Haven Herald that violence is on the rise, which includes intimate partner violence.

“We are always looking for different ways to involve the community and partners and things and so this was just one way to get people together in a fun, more light-hearted way,” said Giunta, who is deputy chief of the Special Victims Division that oversees the Domestic Violence Bureau.

Out of New York City’s five boroughs, Bronx has the highest number of chronic domestic violence complaints, according to NYPD data. This means the domestic violence case recorded involved a “chronic offender,” someone arrested three or more times in 18 months for a crime related to domestic violence.

The 47th precinct, which serves the northern Bronx neighborhoods of Woodlawn, Wakefield, Williamsbridge, Baychester, Edenwald, Olinville, Fishbay, and Woodlawn Cemetery, has the highest number of domestic violence complaints in New York City, according to NYPD data. 

Over the 5K event’s six years, Giunta said this was the first with rain, but that didn’t stop people from showing up. When the registration link closed Friday evening, Giunta said 560 people had registered. Plus, day-of attendees also registered to participate. 

“Even if it works for only one person, I know that it’s worth it, and I know that it works because every year there’s a survivor in the audience,” Giunta said. “And throughout the year I get calls, saying, ‘You know I wasn’t a victim at the time, but now I find myself in a situation, and I know there were lots of agencies that were present. Can you remind me?,’ ” Giunta added.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark stood at the start and finish line to cheer on those crossing it. She said the main message of the event is that “you are not alone.”

“Silence is the violence. So I want to make sure I get the awareness out there to let people know that it’s okay to say that you’re not okay,” said Clark. “That if they need help, it’s here. There’s no shame in this.” 

The district attorney added that her office offers many wrap-around services through community partners such as therapists and advocates, in addition to prosecutors in her office.

If someone is experiencing an immediate emergency or is in danger, Clark said call 9-1-1. Otherwise, the Bronx District Attorney’s Crimes Victims Assistance Hotline is (718) 590-2115. If someone doesn’t want to go the law enforcement route, Giunta recommended visiting the Bronx Family Justice Center located on the second floor at 198 East 161 Street. Walk-ins are welcome or their phone number is (718) 508-1222 to make an appointment. People can also call 3-1-1 to be connected to resources locally. 

Alternatively, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is answered 24 hours a day and seven days a week and is (800) 799-7233 or text START to 88788.

Because October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month in the United States, The 5K event isn’t the only thing happening in the Bronx to raise awareness. Earlier this month, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson unveiled “31 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence,” featuring events, trainings, and social media campaigns to highlight and tackle the issue.

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