New York, New York (October 22, 2015) – HELP USA Chairman Maria Cuomo Cole was recently invited to address the attendees at the Investigation Discovery (ID) and Glamour Magazine INSPIRE A DIFFERENCE honors event.


HELP USA Chairman Maria Cuomo Cole remarks

Thank you Henry and Discovery Id for tackling the difficult but important subject of domestic and family violence – not just with the premier of Behind Closed Coors, but for years of responsible investigative coverage of the toughest issues. With Henry at the helm, I would expect no less than the high quality groundbreaking content prolifically produced by any team he is leading.

Some of you may be aware of the dramatic increase of homelessness in our city – a trend in other major cities across the country. Tonight, 60,000 people will sleep in shelters including close to 10,000 victims of domestic violence.  Many shelters are frequently filled to capacity and must turn away battered women and their children.

Many domestic violence shelters are unable to house families longer than 30 days to allow space for individuals in immediate danger. Due to the shortage of permanent housing vouchers and affordable housing, victims of domestic violence often return to their abusers because they cannot find long-term housing, and let’s not forget that more women were killed by intimate partners with guns over the last 12yrs than the total number of U.S. troops killed in action during the entirety of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

At HELP USA we provide safe dignified transitional and permanent housing for victims and their children – including a growing number of men who have fled their home life with their children from abusive wives and partners. These cases are often the most heartbreaking as the issues of humiliation and self worth seem magnified by our dominant patriarchal culture.

I want to share the words of two men who lived with us at HELP USA just in the last year and are now thankfully living in permanent homes with their children.

Guadalupe Martinez – 2013

“It is hard for me to admit that my girlfriend was physically abusive. I tried to tolerate her crazy moods and terrible biting, scratching, punching but I couldn’t allow my son to pay the price of witnessing such violence. Worse than the physical scars and humiliation, was that I felt trapped – she knew about my immigrant status and threatened that she would call the police and have me deported. Because I am male, the police never believed me when I called them to report her.

I used to have very good waiting jobs, making as much as $2,000 a week but I was forced to give her all of the money I earned and sometimes she would even hide my clothes so that I couldn’t go to work. My employers couldn’t allow me to serve because of the severe scratch marks on my face and then she kicked me and my son out on to the street.

It was hard but I finally sought emergency shelter. Explaining to my son that we would have to live in a shelter was the lowest point in my life.

My experience as a male survivor has made me realize that many, including cops, do not believe men can be abused by women. Obvious wounds were not enough to get a police report or an order of protection.  The HELP staff at Haven, helped me take care of my son so I could get organized to gain legal status and working papers. They are also trying to find us an affordable permanent apartment, but it is very difficult in NYC.

The scholarship money I am awarded today will be used toward rent and buying a computer so I can look for a higher paying job. My dream is to become a US citizen and take care of my son.”

Haseeb Mohammed – 2014
“After our marriage in 2008, my wife’s attitude changed, and she started drinking and became verbally and physically abusive. She was unreasonably controlling and many times I had to escape her fits of violence and abuse. My world was crumbling with severe depression. I didn’t want to retaliate with violence in self-defense – but how could I, as a man, not be able to control my wife?

I knew I had to leave my wife and start over but I couldn’t afford another apartment. Thanks to HELP’s R.O.A.D.S outreach hotline, I am now getting back on track, and working. Now that I’ve been able to rebuild my self-confidence, I know I will reach my career goals.”