Victims Counselor in the Safe Against Violence Division & Moderator of Plant Mom
In 1987, Congress passed a public law for October to be observed as National Domestic Violence Awareness month.
It evolved from the “Day Of Unity”, which began in 1981, and was put in place by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, in the US alone, over 12 million women and men are victims of intimate partner violence every year. Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men in the US have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by a partner and reported it.
There are millions of people, both victims and survivors, experiencing trauma and being impacted every day from domestic violence. Not everyone has caring, loving homes to resort back to in times of need. Not everyone has a strong family support system, or an outlet to be heard and to help heal. Everyone deserves a happy and enjoyable life, and we can all do our part to help raise awareness to domestic violence.
This week, we had the pleasure to speak with Linda Astuto, who has for the past 11 years, devoted her career as a Victims Counselor in the Safe Against Violence division for Delaware Opportunities, located in Hamden, NY. Safe Against Violence is the Domestic Violence Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center Program. Once she and her co-workers receive cases, they aid and guide people to their next step.
“We help them find housing, we have a shelter, we work with social services, help with facilitating rent, anything we need to do to have them leave their situation or stay safe in the situation.”
A year ago a new unit was added, called the Child Advocacy Center. They have a mobile unit that is used to interview children through Child Protection Services, for children that have experienced trauma as a result of domestic violence and sexual assault. This is a children-friendly environment to interview and record stories, which allows the CAA to eliminate having to talk to multiple organizations, or people. CPS and law enforcement host the interviews and ensure that all the recordings get to where they need to go.
Linda states that when she initially got the job it became something more, it became personal, a part of her life and she now has an even larger passion to help others. A lot of people are unaware they are in a domestic violence relationship or don’t see nor understand the severity of it. “Clients say, ‘I don't think this is domestic violence, I just don't know where to turn right now’ then they realize ‘Yes it is.’ Some people think of domestic violence only being physical violence and that's really only part of it.” Domestic Violence includes a wide range of different types of abuse. This includes physical, emotional, sexual and psychological abuse towards adults and children.
Austuto is always helping others. She and her mother recently, in March of 2020 launched a
company called Plant Mom. It started as a small facebook group where people could exchange ideas and thoughts on plants and life and has grown quite a bit in a short amount of time. They are receiving orders, establishing delivery routes and have developed a larger online forum based primarily around plants and the community that surrounds them. Their first Plant Extravaganza benefited Heroes in Ripped Jeans, a local rescue organization out of Oneonta, NY that cares for and houses stray dogs and cats. Twenty percent of sales went to help their animal shelter. Plant Mom will continue to benefit organizations that are making a difference. She states..
“My mom and I both care about people and animals, we strive to help the underdog.”
Katherine Olerich, Astuto’s mother, is the “Plant Guru.” Her plant knowledge and artistic approach towards plant design is where the business bloomed from. She is a master at Succulent arrangements whereas Astuto focuses more on making macrame pieces, finding house plants and maintains the administrative side of the business. They are a good team, their skills and expertise complete each other. You can purchase pieces and view their work on their facebook group page, Plant Mom. Not only do they have completed pieces for sale but they also take requests for custom orders. Currently they are selling only in their nearby communities but have hopes for the future to build the business towards becoming accessible elsewhere and maybe one day have a storefront. Soon, they envision being at local craft markets and teach classes at parties and events. She is so thankful for the overwhelming support they have already had.
“Bloom where you are planted.”
This is the Plant Mom motto. Basically, be you, stay strong and grow where you are. Be your own flower.
Through being a Victim Counselor, a small business owner and a proud mother she has gained a lot of insight about life. Asututo states..
“Don't let other people make decisions for you. It's okay to cry, it's okay to feel the feelings especially when you feel you shouldn't.”
For those out there that are struggling and finding themselves in relationships where this is domestic violence, she stresses that you are not alone. There are many people out there in a similar place. By reaching out to someone, you can make a really big step toward healing. It is natural to question yourself, but Astuto reminds us all..
“If you need to talk to somebody, reach out, it’s so important, especially right now with all the other insanity.”
Since the birth of the Covid-19 pandemic, domestic violence dispute cases have only risen world-
wide. The term “Intimate Terrorism” is being adapted in association with domestic violence. What does Intimate Terrorism mean? It is when a partner takes on one- sided violence, or aggression in a variety of abusive forms. It is imperative that people do their part to highlight National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and to also offer information on where to find help to those in need. There is a multitude of places where people in these tough situations can reach out. Please check with your local area on where domestic abuse centers are, contact the police or social services, and help lines. They ARE out there.
On October 22nd, Linda urges us to please join the national movement for “Purple Thursday.” This is a simple way to raise awareness for Domestic Violence. Take the next step and post a purple-centric photo with #purplethursday.
Q + A with Linda Astuto
Q: What is Moxxi to you?
A: "My daughter. Being able to show her even as a parent, you aren’t just a parent. You don’t have to follow the path that other people tell you to, you can do anything."
Q: How do you take your coffee?
A: "One cup of hot drip coffee throughout the whole day, every day, but it’s a very large cup in a travel mug with Nut Pods, a dairy free creamer."
Q: Any books to recommend?
A: “Untamed by Glennon Doyle"
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: "My mom is a big inspiration to me, when I think about advice and life she is always there, she is my rock."
Q: Famous Inspiration?
A: "Mariska Hargitay, I love her acting and I love that she fights for the cause in real life. She's and her law and order character are both strong independent women!"
Q: What does coffee mean to you?
A: "I remember as a kid always loving the smell of coffee. I just love knowing that in the morning I have my one cup of coffee to look forward to! I love the taste of it too. If I could I'd drink more than one cup, but anxiety and caffeine are enemies lol!"
Q: What does the word Moxxi mean to you?
A: "It means fun. When I think Moxxi, it's a special kind of energy.”
Written & Curated By | Krysta Kearney, Moxxi Coffee Co.
Keep updated on Linda Astuto, and some links about her work below!