Sanctuary Applauds Gov. Cuomo for Granting Clemency to Monica Szlekovics

Read our press release

After 23 years in prison and incredible advocacy by Sanctuary partners Davis Polk & Wardwell, Monica Szlekovics has been granted clemency for the crime she was compelled to commit in 1996 due to years of abuse from her ex-husband. In granting her clemency, the State acknowledges the extenuating circumstances of her conviction and the traumatic impact of domestic violence on its victims.

Read our press release below:

 Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families, New York State’s leading advocate and service provider for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking and related forms of gender violence, issued the following statement:

“In granting clemency to domestic violence survivor Monica Szlekovics, who served 23 years of a 50-year to life sentence, Governor Andrew Cuomo has not only recognized her incredible personal transformation and achievements while in prison, but he has also acknowledged the extenuating circumstances of her conviction and the traumatic impact of domestic violence on its victims.”

“Sanctuary for Families views Monica’s clemency as a victory for survivors of intimate partner abuse everywhere.  We applaud the Governor for his insight, compassion and courage in making this important decision.”

Monica’s clemency case was handled by an extraordinary team of pro bono attorneys at Davis Polk & Wardwell, led by Special Counsel for Pro Bono Sharon Katz and Pro Bono Attorney Dara Sheinfeld, and including associates Jennifer Kalmanides and Peter Bozzo, former associates Brooklynn Moore and Jaryn Fields, and former legal assistant Emma Schwartz.  Partner Tatiana Martins also provided valuable assistance.  The team worked closely with outside co-counsel, Sara Bennett, whose prior clemency experience proved invaluable.  The team engaged with numerous leaders in the domestic violence community, who strongly advocated for Monica’s release.  The case was referred to Davis Polk by the Initiative for Incarcerated Survivors of Gender Violence, founded in 2017 by Dorchen Leidholdt, the Director of Sanctuary for Families’ Legal Center.

Like so many women across this country, Monica suffered years of excruciating and escalating domestic violence at the hands of her now ex-husband.  He choked her, threatened her with guns, beat her mercilessly—rupturing her eardrum and bruising her from head to toe, and subjected her to ongoing psychological torture.  Years of abuse led her to fear that her husband would kill her. Eventually, he kidnapped her at gunpoint and forced her—through a combination of physical threats, force, emotional abuse, and psychological manipulation—to accompany him on a violent crime spree in Rochester in search of an estranged girlfriend, who, herself, had previously fled from his violence.

Monica was sentenced to 50 years to life for her participation in crimes masterminded and instigated by her abusive husband.  At his trial, which post-dated hers, the prosecutor characterized Monica as “a pathetic, battered woman,” and acknowledged that her husband was a dangerously violent man who was “manipulating her, controlling her [and] dominating her.”

During her 23-year incarceration, Monica transformed herself from a broken, battered, drug-addicted young woman into a self-aware, confident agent of change.  Among other accomplishments, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, cum laude, became a responsible and valued employee of the prison’s college program, consistently volunteered her time to mentor other women, and flourished as a talented and published writer and artist.

Make Your Birthday Even More Meaningful — Start a Facebook Fundraiser for Survivors

Mark your calendars for #GivingTuesday on December 3rd!

If your birthday is coming up, your friends and family are probably already looking for a special gift that will show just how much you mean to them. This year, save them the hassle and help them make your day even more meaningful — Give them the opportunity to donate to survivors by starting a Facebook Fundraiser!

    Create my facebook fundraiser

1. Visit https://www.facebook.com/fund/SanctuaryforFamilies

2. Search for Sanctuary for Families — You’ll know it’s us by our logo!

3. Set your fundraising goal and end date, then click on “Next”

4. In the title and description, share why you’ve chosen to dedicate your birthday to survivors of gender-based violence.

5. Pick a Cover Photo and click on “Create”

6. Finally, invite your friends and share your fundraiser! Make sure to thank your loved ones for their gifts throughout the course of your campaign. 

Remember, 100% of donations made through Facebook go to the nonprofit organization; which means every dollar goes to our cause. If you have any questions, please send us a message on Facebook or contact Genoveva Eguiguren, Communications & Outreach Assistant, at  (212-349-6009 x 243).

Thank you for dedicating your special day to our clients. From all of us at Sanctuary, Happy Birthday!

It’s #GivingTuesday! Create Your Facebook Fundraiser Today

Mark your calendars for #GivingTuesday on December 3rd!

On Tuesday, December 3, people from all around the world will join together to celebrate Giving Tuesday – a day of global charitable giving. We hope that you’ll choose to support Sanctuary’s life-saving work on this special day.

If you’d like to increase your impact, you can create a Facebook fundraiser to get your friends and family involved in our mission to end gender-based violence. It’s an easy and effective way to get the word out about our work.

Create my facebook fundraiser

 

Facebook is matching up to $100,000 for every non-profit in the US. You can make an incredible difference with just a few minutes’ work.

  1. Click the button above to create your own Facebook fundraiser today.
  2. Click ‘Select Nonprofit’ and search for Sanctuary for Families. You’ll know it’s us by our logo!
  3. Set your goal and tell your friends why you support us.
  4. Start sharing your fundraiser this evening and all through the end of the day tomorrow. Remember to thank your friends and family as they give

100% of donations made through Facebook go to the nonprofit organization; which means every dollar goes to our cause.

Sanctuary for Families is dedicated to the safety, healing, and self-determination of victims of domestic violence and related forms of gender violence. Through comprehensive services for our clients and their children, and through outreach, education, and advocacy, we strive to create a world in which freedom from gender violence is a basic human right.

5 Ways to Make a Difference This Giving Season

Mark your calendars for #GivingTuesday on December 3rd!

Every year, in the midst of the overwhelming holiday season, there is a day in which millions of people come together in the spirit of making a difference. Known as #GivingTuesday, this celebration of charitable giving harnesses the collective power of individuals and organizations to encourage philanthropy, celebrate generosity, and empower communities across the world.

This year’s Giving Tuesday falls on December 3, and we’re hoping that you’ll stand with survivors by giving to Sanctuary for Families. Last year, Sanctuary served over 10,000 adult and children survivors of domestic abuse, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender-based violence. Having your support will allow us to continue to provide life-changing services to thousands of families in New York City as they move from fear and abuse to safety and stability.

Here are five ways to support survivors this season:

1. Create a Facebook Fundraiser

Rally your friends and family to join our cause by starting your own #GivingTuesday fundraiser and TRIPLE your impact — Facebook is matching up to $100,000 in donations made to every non-profit in the US, plus all funds raised on Facebook in benefit of Sanctuary will be matched by one of our long-time supporters.

Make a difference with just a few minutes’ work — Click below:

CREATE MY FACEBOOK FUNDRAISER

Or, alternatively,

  1. Visit facebook.com/fund/SanctuaryforFamilies
  2. Click “Select Nonprofit” and search for Sanctuary for Families (you’ll know us from our leaf logo!)
  3. Set your fundraising goal and tell friends why you support us
  4. Start sharing your fundraiser and inviting others to join you in supporting our cause! Remember to thank your friends and family as they give (we’ll be doing so too).

You can also make a donation on Sanctuary’s Giving Tuesday Fundraiser. 100% of donations made through Facebook go to the nonprofit organization; which means every dollar you raise goes to our cause.

2. Support our Annual Appeal Campaign

At Sanctuary, we believe that in love there is no violence. Last year, through a range of comprehensive services, outreach and advocacy, we empowered over 10,000 survivors to rebuild their lives, educate our communities to prevent abuse, and champion policies locally, regionally and nationally that support survivors and their unique needs.

  Donate now 

Your year-end gift will offer survivors a chance at a life free from violence. Learn more about the impact you will have on the life of survivors like Ana:

 

3. Adopt a Family

Help us brighten the holidays for survivors of gender violence and their children by participating in our Adopt-a-Family program. This year, Sanctuary will once again share wish lists from families, with individuals and groups.

  SIGN UP 

All gifts must be mailed or delivered in-person to our lower Manhattan office by Friday, December 6th or earlier. Deliveries must be prearranged.

4. Organize a Holiday Drive

Every year, Sanctuary collects thousands of donated gifts and gift cards for the many clients we serve. Please consider asking your friends, family, or coworkers to participate in a holiday drive to collect gift cards or other items for adults, teens or children.

 

contact us to learn more

The deadline to deliver items collected through holiday drives is on or before Friday, December 6th.

5. Be a Holiday Helper

Sanctuary needs help sorting, organizing and wrapping the wonderful donations we receive. We will host Holiday Helpers Monday through Friday (10:30AM – 1:00PM and 2:00-4:30PM) from December 2nd through December 19th at our Lower Manhattan location.

contact us to learn more

Questions? Please contact us at info@sffny.org