Our Work Continues Beyond January 20th

“While we continue to process and reckon with the state of our country, now is also the time we must recommit to the work of ending violence and oppression in all forms,” says Sanctuary ED Judy H. Kluger.

What we witnessed in our nation’s capital last Wednesday was a disgraceful act of treason, a terrifying display of white supremacy and anti-Semitism, a clear example of white male privilege, and the greatest attack on our democracy that many of us have seen in our lifetimes.

While we continue to process and reckon with the state of our country, now is also the time we must recommit to the work of ending violence and oppression in all forms. What occurred on January 6th is the product of 245 years of systemic racism and mirrors American history. On the same day that the remarkable mobilization of Black and Brown voters resulted in the historic election of Georgia’s first Black and Jewish senators, white insurrectionists, falsely claiming voter fraud in cities with large Black and Brown populations, carried confederate flags through the halls of the Capitol for the first time in our country’s history. The forces of white supremacy and patriarchy will continue to exert themselves long after January 20th when the Biden-Harris administration begins.

So our work continues, with renewed urgency. The next four years have the potential to be transformational but only with concerted attention and effort. For over 35 years, Sanctuary for Families has been there for survivors of gender-based violence — providing the tools and support survivors need to reunite and protect their families, secure safe and permanent housing, attain living-wage career-track jobs and become leaders in their communities. Our support and advocacy will continue with a special focus on:

  • The immediate end of asylum policies instituted by the Trump administration, the reinstatement of DACA, and comprehensive immigration reform to benefit our clients, over 70% of whom are immigrants.
  • State legislation that will deliver greater social services and protections to people in the sex trade, a population that is disproportionately made up of Black and Brown women and girls, LGBTQ+ people, and immigrants.
  • Implementation of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, a New York State law that grants judges the discretion to sentence survivors, whose abuse or exploitation was a significant contributing factor to the crime they committed, to reduced or alternative sentencing.
  • Sanctuary’s survivor leadership policies to ensure survivor voices are reflected at all levels, including our Board of Directors.
  • Sanctuary’s anti-racism work and review of our accountability, hiring, and compensation policies.

I urge each of you to consider how you can counter the forces of white supremacy and patriarchy which give rise to gender-based violence. Take a look at this guide from Indivisible for suggestions on addressing racism and implicit bias within you and your communities. If you aren’t already involved, reach out to us to learn more about how you can support survivors of abuse.


Hon. Judy Harris Kluger,
Executive Director

Our Work Does Not End With This Election

A statement by Sanctuary ED Judy Harris Kluger.

2020 has challenged us as individuals, as communities, and as a democracy.

When the coronavirus hit New York City this spring, we isolated ourselves from loved ones and tried to manage our anxiety and grief. Over the summer, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other unarmed Black and Brown people demanded that we confront the devastating impact of systemic violence in our communities and institutions. Now this election is challenging us as a country and a democracy.

Regardless of the outcome, Sanctuary for Families will continue to uphold our mission of ensuring freedom from gender violence. Today and always, we stand for equity, safety, and justice for all.

Gender violence does not begin, nor will it end with this election. Gender violence is the product of a multitude of failures. It is a product of misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. And it is the product of underfunding education, healthcare, social services, and public assistance programs. These issues did not begin four years ago.

We have much work ahead of us. For over 35 years, Sanctuary has provided the tools and resources survivors need to build safe and healthy lives free from violence. We will continue to serve and advocate until we live in a world in which freedom from gender violence is a basic human right.

When the results are in and all the votes are counted, I hope you too will continue to stand up for our country, our democracy, and survivors of gender violence.



Hon. Judy Harris Kluger
Executive Director, Sanctuary for Families

We Must Do More

As service providers and advocates for survivors, we cannot effectively address the issue of gender-based violence without also combating racist systems of oppression.

Judy H. Kluger is Executive Director at Sanctuary for Families. 

I am outraged and heartbroken. The last few weeks have once again laid bare what every Black and Brown person growing up in America knows: racism pervades all aspects of American life. As service providers and advocates for survivors, we cannot effectively address the issue of gender-based violence – one that disproportionately affects Black and Brown women and girls – without also combating the oppressive systems that make these populations more vulnerable and holding to account those who promulgate racism.

Sanctuary for Families stands in solidarity with the families and friends of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, the countless unarmed Black and Brown people who have been killed, and those standing against racial injustice everywhere. 

These are challenging times for so many, but particularly for communities of color, including members of the Sanctuary community, whose health and safety during this pandemic are all the more precarious due to inequalities and discriminatory practices inherent in our healthcare system. Against the backdrop of these recent events, I wanted to share a bit more about how Sanctuary is working to address racism and steps I am taking to challenge myself and bring about change.

Sanctuary has always stood against racism and discrimination, but we know our work needs to be more intentional – to be actively anti-racist. Over the last few years, we’ve made anti-racism trainings mandatory for all new staff, and have incorporated trainings on micro-aggressions and inclusion into our regular training curriculum. We brought on a consultant and formed a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee to help drive this work. The conversations we have had as an agency have been hard, and we know this is just the beginning. Our work must continue.

Of course, this work isn’t new to us. The majority of those we serve – women of color, many immigrants, and mothers living below the poverty line – are processing the trauma of the abuse they’ve experienced as well as the latent trauma of racism. As advocates for our clients, we fight against the racism and discrimination inherent in our systems and institutions daily.

We must hold ourselves accountable for the role each of us plays within these systems of injustice and recommit to doing the work needed to bring about change. Here’s how we can each start:

These are difficult issues that demand our attention and action beyond this moment. I hope you will take time this weekend and in the future to read articles, listen to podcasts, and watch videos with perspectives that challenge you. And to those enmeshed in this work, I hope you take time to rest and practice self-care.

For over 35 years, Sanctuary has worked to build a world in which freedom from gender violence is a basic human right. Our work is inherently bound to the broader fight against racism and structural inequality. Only by addressing both in tandem will we achieve our mission.

In Solidarity,

Hon. Judy H. Kluger
Executive Director, Sanctuary for Families

Standing Against Racism

Our statement on the rise of discrimination and racism against Asians and Asian-Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, a Sanctuary staff member told me about a distressing experience she had with a trafficking survivor who needed in-person assistance. Our staff member and her client were both of Asian descent and as they walked down the street, following proper social distancing etiquette, a passerby verbally accosted them and accused them of spreading Coronavirus.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, discrimination against people of Asian descent has increased dramatically. Numerous staff members at Sanctuary have reported our Asian and Asian-American clients have experienced some form of discrimination or feel unsafe going out in public. Of the nearly 250 bias incident complaints reported to New York City’s Commission on Human Rights since February, 42% were directed at Asian-Americans. Countless more unreported incidents have occurred. This is, unfortunately, part of a long history of discrimination and bias perpetrated against Asian Americans in this country.

This is not who we, as a City, are. 

Sanctuary for Families strongly condemns the reprehensible actions by those few who seek to scapegoat Asian and Asian-American communities. These are trying times for everyone, and hate and discrimination have no place here. At Sanctuary, our staff are reaching out to Asian and Asian-American clients, offering counseling and other supportive services to those who are experiencing heightened anxiety or stress due to the threat or experiences of harassment.

We hope you will join us in supporting and standing in solidarity with our Asian and Asian-American friends, family, neighbors, and communities. Learn how you can safely and effectively intervene when you witness harassment and share these posts from the Immigrant History Initiative online with your communities to ensure we’re all more prepared to step in and support victims.

Wishing you and your family health and safety during these difficult times.


Hon. Judy H. Kluger
Executive Director, Sanctuary for Families