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Abusers' threats should be taken very seriously and responded to swiftly, predictably, and consistently. When there is firsthand knowledge of an abuser's threat to do harm, the intended victim and the police must be notified immediately and the victim should be given  the local domestic violence hotline number and offered assistance with safety planning.

d.Providers' responses should include ways to facilitate the documentation and provision of relevant information to the courts regarding the effects of domestic violence on children.

Pursuant to Chapter 85 of the Laws of 1996, New York State courts are required to consider the effects of domestic violence as a factor in custody and visitation decisions. It is impossible for courts to determine the best interests of children and to make fully informed decisions about custody and visitation without full and accurate information. Thorough information gathering and accurate documentation can assist the court in deciding custody and visitation cases if such records are subpoenaed by the court.

Research suggests that adult domestic violence may be the primary familial context for child abuse, (17) with the adult male abuser perpetrating abuse on the female partner as well as the children in the household. Further, children who witness adult domestic violence suffer a range of potentially serious effects including somatic problems such as failure to thrive, gastrointestinal distress, headaches, insomnia and bed wetting, behavioral difficulties, and declines in academic performance. As teenagers, these children are more likely than other teens to be involved with alcohol/other drugs, criminal activity, and prostitution. They also comprise a disproportionate number of teen parents and homeless youth. (18)

3.SYSTEMS' RESPONSIBILITY

Despite the significant number of victims and children served each year through the domestic violence service system, it is clear that this represents only a relatively small proportion of all victims who seek help in New York

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