ALBANY, NY (WENY)-- On Oct. 1, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a proclamation commemorating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Hochul also launched a multi-media campaign aimed at helping New Yorkers called 'Start the Conversation.' 

In 2021, there were over 195,000 domestic violence orders and protections, which is an 18% increase from 2020, according to the Office of Court Administration. 

“One of the biggest challenges that face victims of domestic violence and the programming around that is really people understanding what it takes to leave," said Kelli Owens, Executive Director of the New York State Office for Prevention of Domestic Violence. 

Owens added that there are a lot of misconceptions about what it looks like to leave a domestic violence situation. She said in some cases, victims can be subject to technology abuse, where their abuser uses technology as a tool for power and control. 

Abusive relationships progress and often do not start out that way, she said. A person in a domestic violence situation, she added, doesn't always understand right away the type of situation they are in. 

To be an ally in a domestic violence situation, Owens said the best thing to do is to be there as a resource and be ready to listen. 

“What they just need to know is that you’re there for them no matter what and that you’ll help them take whatever path they want. I think that’s the most important thing to remember. And often don’t put your own judgment into the situation because you’re not living it,” she said.  

For free confidential support, you can call the 24/7 New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence hotline at (800-942-6906) or text to (844-997-2121).