Sanctuary launches new podcast series with BRIC

Pieter Keushkerian is a communication intern at Sanctuary and a student at NYU’s Gallatin School

Pieter Keushkerian is a communication intern at Sanctuary and a student at NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study, where he is majoring in Social and Political Theory relating to Human Rights.

Partnership with BRIC

In August 2016, Sanctuary partnered with BRIC, a community media arts organization based in Brooklyn, to develop a public service announcement. Working with Sanctuary staff members, Andrea Yeriazarian, Program Director of Children and Family Services at the Manhattan Family Justice Center (FJC) and Deborah Lee, Senior Staff Attorney with Sanctuary’s Immigration Intervention Project at the Brooklyn (FJC), members of Sanctuary’s teen girls group shared how domestic violence had impacted their lives and how Sanctuary’s services enabled them to heal and thrive. By sharing their stories through the PSA, they hoped to raise awareness and encourage other teens to reach out for help.

Thrilled by the success of the first PSA, Sanctuary teamed up with BRIC again this past summer to utilize the organization’s Media Share Grant, an in-kind grant aimed at helping Brooklyn-based and Brooklyn-affiliated nonprofits tell their unique story. Deborah and Andrea received free training and became certified in podcast production with the help of their BRIC mentor, Keisha. Both Andrea and Deborah learned numerous techniques and helpful tricks of the trade from the recording to the editing stage. All of their work culminated in Sanctuary’s new series of client driven podcasts, the first of which can be found here.

First Podcast Featuring Keziah

The first episode of the podcast series focuses on the extent to which cultural norms impact individual behavior in abusive relationships. It begins with the story of Keziah, a seventeen-year-old survivor of domestic violence and one of the teenagers featured in the PSA. Keziah and her family are long-standing clients of Sanctuary and have received immigration assistance, counseling services, and economic empowerment support over the years. Keziah approached both Andrea and Deborah with the desire to interview other clients and survivors in order to get a better understanding of the origins and consequences of domestic violence.

“Keziah directed us in terms of structuring the podcast, and we were so happy to have been able to help her have this podcast conversation.”

For Sanctuary’s inaugural podcast, Keziah chose to host a panel of survivors, which included Maria, John and Shantae, all of whom had been affected by domestic violence and gender abuse in one way or another and were eager to share their personal narratives. As a result of their openness, their shared perspectives create a warm space in which healing and understanding are encouraged.

Future Goals

The ultimate goal of our new podcast series is to give survivors, who often avoid sharing their stories for fear of revealing their identity, a way to speak out. In Keziah’s words:

“Doing this podcast helped me to stop hiding behind my story. It helped me to realize that I was using my story to define me, and that I really don’t know who I am. It forced me to realize that I need to find myself and use my story to help others instead of hiding.”

Both Andrea and Deborah hope that this new series inspires others who have been impacted by domestic violence to share their stories on this new and exciting platform.

Sanctuary Announces the New Co-Chair of the PBC

Sanctuary for Families’ PBC is excited to announce that, as of January 1 st , Louisa Irving, managing associate at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, is serving as Co-Chair.

Sanctuary for Families’ PBC is excited to announce that, as of January 1st, Louisa Irving, managing associate at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, is serving as Co-Chair along with Mia White, Associate General Counsel at McKinsey & Company, Co-Chair since 2016, who has generously offered to stay on for a third one-year term.

About the PBC

The PBC was formed in 2003 as the Associate’s Committee, later changed to the Pro Bono Council and currently known as the PBC, with the goal of bringing together young professionals committed to supporting and promoting the work of Sanctuary through active community engagement, pro bono projects and client-centered events.  The recent decision to refer to the group as simply the “PBC”  is a reflection of its expanding and dynamic base of volunteers including and beyond the legal profession. The PBC currently has approximately 25 active members and a network of approximately 150 professionals. Each fall, the PBC hosts the Above and Beyond benefit, an event that supports the Legal Center by honoring the pro bono lawyers and other volunteers who have worked on behalf of Sanctuary’s clients during the past year. Last year’s Above & Beyond event raised over $183,000 in support of the Legal Center.

Introducing Louisa

Louisa succeeds Ben Schatz of the Center for Appellate Litigation, who served as Co-Chair of the PBC with Mia from 2016 to December 2017 with great dedication and creativity. Together, Ben and Mia brought the PBC to another level as a cohesive group of ambassadors for Sanctuary, creating a PBC online presence, and encouraging its members to share success stories and leverage their professional networks to enhance new initiatives. Ben deserves a big round of applause for his services over the past two years.

Louisa brings with her many years of public service, as well as seasoned litigation skills and a close relationship with Sanctuary. After graduating from Middlebury College with a BA in East Asian Studies and Dance, serving as a Teaching Fellow in Hangzhou, China and teaching Mandarin in this country, Louisa worked for two years at Sanctuary, demonstrating great dedication and persistence in her work with Sanctuary’s clients. She helped them resolve challenging housing and public benefits issues, obtain scholarship assistance and access to other economic empowerment services. In addition, she was responsible for coordinating Sanctuary’s Courtroom Advocate’s Project.

While at UC Berkeley School of Law, Louisa continued her work on behalf of domestic violence victims and their children, interning at the Family Violence Law Center in Oakland and the Legal Services for Prisoners with Children in San Francisco. As a managing associate in the litigation group at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe since 2014, Louisa returned to volunteer at Sanctuary, becoming a member of the PBC in 2016 and taking on the planning for several important events.

As of the first of the year, she and Mia have been consulting regularly on PBC’s priorities for the coming year. They are excited to focus on expanding the PBC’s thought leadership, increasing membership opportunities across all young (and young-at-heart) professionals, and breaking the PBC’s $200K fundraising goal in support of Sanctuary this year!

Please join us in welcoming Louisa as PBC Co-Chair!

Get Involved

The PBC welcomes all professionals committed to helping victims of gender-based violence who are interested in supporting and promoting the work of Sanctuary. The PBC hosts full membership meetings every other month at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe at 7:00 PM.

Anyone interested in getting involved with Sanctuary and its pro bono work should attend a meeting to see this dynamic group of professionals in action – and to get involved themselves!

Please contact PBC co-chairs Louisa Irving ( and Mia White ( to learn more about joining the PBC.

Nicole Fidler is the Pro Bono Supervising Attorney at Sanctuary for Families. Learn more about our Pro Bono Program.

Holiday Highlights 2017

Here are our favorite moments from our most successful holiday giving campaign to date.

Holidays can be a difficult time for many of our clients, who are often isolated from their friends, families, and communities. Donors and volunteers like you continue to provide a sense of hope and make the season brighter. Here are just a few of the ways we’ve seen that happen in the past few weeks:

1. When 146 of our highest-needs families (over 410 individuals) had their entire holiday wish lists fulfilled by incredibly generous donors – thank you for bringing joy to survivors of gender violence during this busy season.

2. Handing out thousands of  games, toys and gifts to 1,200 additional adults and children who receive services at Sanctuary.

3. Welcoming 125 amazing volunteers who wrapped, sorted and organized gifts – we couldn’t have reached so many clients without you!

4. Collecting over $30,000 in cash and gift card donations to distribute – empowering our clients to buy presents for themselves and their loved ones.

5. Celebrating the 25th Annual Horace Mann Winter Party where over 150 Sanctuary clients enjoyed a festive evening of food, student performances, and gifts for all.

6. Hanging out with the dedicated staff members who coordinate this massive movement of donations, gifts, and parties.

7. Connecting clients and donors through beautiful thank you notes.

8. Seeing how all of your efforts made the season brighter for our clients, who are taking the difficult steps to start a new life. Thank you!

Cyber Sexual Abuse Survivor Nathaly Speaks Out

On November 16th, the New York City Council voted in favor of passing a law to criminalize the non-consensual distribution of sexually explicit images. Read the speech survivor and former Sanctuary client, Nathaly, delivered at the press conference.

On November 16th, the New York City Council unanimously voted to pass a law criminalizing the non-consensual distribution of sexually explicit images. Cyber sexual abuse (also known as “revenge porn”) is an increasingly common and particularly devastating form of domestic violence. It is thanks to the bravery of survivors like Nathaly who have spoken out that this much needed law passed.

Read the speech that Nathaly delivered at the press conference before the vote:

“My name is Nathaly and this is my story. My ex boyfriend of almost ten years ago recorded me behind my back while we were having sex. I had no idea I was being recorded and throughout all these years I didn’t know he had the recording. Almost ten years later he began to stalk, harass, and threaten me all because I did not want to talk to him.

During this time I was in a beauty pageant. He knew about my running in the pageant and wanted to make sure I would never have chance at winning. So he posted the video that he recorded of me on pornography websites with information about me so people would know who the girl is in the video. Even though the video didn’t have my face in it, to know that my body could be seen by just anyone was absolutely terrifying. I felt extremely embarrassed, violated, scared, hurt, and at that point I no longer wanted to live. This was one of the most horrifying experiences of my life. I couldn’t eat, sleep, go to work, I couldn’t even search the web in fear that I just might see something of myself on the internet. This affected me so greatly that it literally immobilized me from having a normal happy life. I no longer believed in myself nor in my dreams.

As I stand her today I want to speak for everyone out there who has experienced or is currently experiencing something similar. I want you to know that you are not alone! You can be strong and brave and with the help of programs like Sanctuary for Families, you can get through this! Don’t blame yourself – this is not your fault! Please continue to fight. Don’t allow this to define you. You are great. Never stop believing in yourself, continue to reach for your dreams!

With all this being said, I believe the law needs to be changed. Recording somebody in a sexual state and posting it on pornography websites without their consent should be illegal! This can greatly help people who are victims from this horrific abuse.”