Breaking The Cycle: Part Three

By Kiersten Mathieu

July 22, 2010 Updated Feb 17, 2006 at 10:18 PM EST

In 2004, more than 2,100 cases of alleged child abuse were reported in Broome County alone. Whether they make it to a courtroom or a counseling center, people are working to stop the violence. Action News is taking a closer look at the shocking abuse. Can it be stopped?

"It just shows the problems never go away," said Gerald Mollen.

Mollen has been working in the Broome County District Attorney's office since 1980.

He's been the District Attorney since 1987, overseeing hundreds of child abuse cases.

Mollen remembers one in particular.

Four year old Monica Neer was beaten and abused by her parents in 2003.

He remembers visiting the little girl at Wilson Hospital before she died from the injuries.

"She was beaten from head to toe. She had a torn anus. I mean, when you see something like that you never forget it. That's for sure. And it does impress upon the importance of doing the best you can when you're investigating these cases," said Mollen.

Mollen speaks to local groups, sharing these stories of domestic horror.

Mollen says a lot of abuse has been prevented as a result of coordinating the department of social services, police departments, school liaisons and non profit agencies like Broome County's Family Violence Prevention Council.

It offers support for people affected by abuse.

The group also promotes prevention, educating the community about the tell tale signs of abuse.

Coordinator Janette Cyganovich says she has seen evidence that cycles of violence within a family can be stopped.

"I've seen generations of children who were victims, even go on and have their children and be successful in parenting," said Janette Cyganovich of Family Violence Prevention Council.

She says it can be stopped only if people realize their past and ask for help.

"People who have been exposed to traumatic events such as child abuse or domestic violence, they do need specialized treatment, therapy, help to help them be able to process what happened to them so they don't continue the cycle," said Cyganovich.

Experts say most child abusers were abused as children themselves.

By reaching out for help, you can stop it and you'll be breaking the cycle.

There are phone numbers you can call if you know, or are, a victim of child abuse.

The Child Abuse 24 Hour New York State hotline is 1-800-342-3720.

For Child Protective Services, call 778-2647.

For the New York State domestic violence hotline, call 1-800-942-6906.

For the Family Violence Prevention Council in Binghamton, call 778-2153.

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