Inez Reid’s tireless work for domestic violence awareness

Misani | 10/30/2015, 3:34 p.m.

Do you know that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month? Inez Reid, director of social services at Cluster House in New York City, is one person who is totally aware of the horrendous, terrifying darkness of domestic violence—and she is doing something to fight it.

Reid is a special human being who heard a call to help others when she was just a child. She shares, “I was 7, impoverished and living with my grandmother when I chose to be homeless with her because I did not want her to be out there by herself.”

The soft-spoken bilingual (English and Spanish) woman, who was born in Panama, is a victim of domestic violence. “I feel that there is not enough publicity around domestic violence. Unlike with breast cancer with its extensive public relations and easily identifiable pink ribbon campaign and activities, domestic violence does not have enough publicity. Just this morning as I was coming into work, I saw a walk-a-thon for breast cancer. There is not enough exposure about domestic violence. There seems to be a taboo about domestic violence.”

Breaking it down further, Reid says, “It’s about what generates money. Domestic violence does not generate money. It’s a cost for the courts, immigration, etcetera, etcetera, whereas for example with cancer, we buy the ribbon, we buy everything that is pink [flowers, toothbrush] etcetera, etcetera. We tend to promote what is going to generate money.

“As we speak, do you know how many women die at the hands of domestic violence?”

Reid shares that one way to advocate against domestic violence is to make it visible. “In my other jobs, I would make ribbons and ask people to wear them every day—more so victims, but also non-victims, and to remember those who have died from domestic violence.”

As a survivor of domestic violence, namely, molestation and rape, Reid is extremely adamant about bringing attention to this plight. Always a fighting advocate for those who are unable to fight for themselves, Reid’s career spans 30 years. A practicing Buddhist of 38 years, she has not only worked in the area of domestic violence but also worked with homeless children and families living in the system.

Reid’s entre into the field was as a psychotherapist. “I became one to help those underserved. I was blessed and given an education, and I want to give back.”

When asked what she likes most about her present job, Reid smiles. “This is a tricky question,” she says. “In this particular case, it’s being able to assist in the area of stable housing,” referring to her position as director of social services at Cluster House. “It’s working with the chronically homeless population.”

Reid received her training as a social worker at Long Island University, from which she graduated with a master’s degree. “I pride myself as a therapist,” she says about her position at Cluster House. Reid also attended a two-year pilot program at Pace University that addressed the issues of domestic violence. Working at the Pace Women’s Justice Center, she served as a bilingual advocate. The program was geared toward the undocumented population and aided the process of leading victimized women, ages 21 to 70, to become legal in this country.

What a voice. As a survivor of domestic violence, Reid’s mantra rings out loud and clear. As she says, “The whole process of her journey is not to victimize the victim, but using advocacy in any family court to help the abused person.”