Happy holidays, and a wish for the new year.

May 2016 bring peace, understanding and freedom from violence.

Dear Sanctuary family,

As we look forward to the new year, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you, and those you love, a joyous holiday season.

In a world with so much strife, tragedy and hate, I am especially grateful to our staff – you should take great pride in the work you do and the compassion and dedication you show our clients. Many have suffered, not only at the hands of their abusers, but because of their religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

And to our supporters – thank you for your incredible support in 2015. From giving to volunteering to educating others about Sanctuary’s work, you made a difference.

Sadly, recent events have allowed bigotry and hateful rhetoric to have a national platform. Some of our Muslim clients and staff and have expressed concern for their own and their families’ safety. Let’s continue to let them know that Sanctuary is a safe place to express those concerns and make every effort to help them through these difficult times.

I know that you join me in hoping that the new year brings peace and understanding to our troubled world.


Judy Kluger
Executive Director
Sanctuary for Families

Our top nine favorite holiday moments at Sanctuary

The holidays are a busy time here at Sanctuary – check out some of our favorite moments bringing cheer to our clients!

Although the holidays are a difficult time for many of our clients who have left behind family and friends in their efforts to escape abuse, donors and volunteers like you make the season brighter. Here are just a few of the ways we’ve seen that happen in the past few weeks:

1. When 139 of our highest-needs families had their entire holiday wishlists fulfilled by incredibly generous donors – thank you for bringing joy to survivors of gender violence during this busy season.


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

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3. Handing out 1,400 additional games, toys and gifts to other adults and children who receive services at Sanctuary.

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4. Throwing five fantastic parties thanks to Horace Mann School, Paul Lebrecque Salon, and other amazing donors and volunteers.



5. Collecting thousands of dollars in gift cards to distribute to families – empowering moms to buy everything from holiday presents to groceries, and taking a bit of stress off the holiday season.


6. Visits from Santa – on three different occasions! (Santa made possible thanks to very jolly Sanctuary staff!)

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


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


9. Seeing how all of your efforts – our donors, volunteers and supporters – make the season brighter for our clients, who are leaving abuse behind and taking the difficult step to start a new life.


With pro bono support, Jennifer got her son back.

Sanctuary staff and pro bono attorneys took on the legal system to reunite Jennifer with her son Tommy.

By now, you’ve watched Jennifer share her story. Ben A. Schatz, a Sanctuary pro bono attorney who worked with Jennifer on her case, shares how they took on the legal system to ensure Jennifer and Tommy could find safety and freedom from violence.

Jennifer came to Sanctuary’s office at the Bronx Family Justice Center one afternoon last year in a panic. Her ex-boyfriend John had thrown a metal cooking pot at her, severely bruising her arm. Next time, he said, he’d kill her.

Then he left with their then two-year-old son, Tommy, and told Jennifer she’d never see Tommy again.

Reuniting mother and son

Dara Sheinfeld, Sanctuary’s Legal Director in the Bronx and Manhattan, acted fast. Working with law enforcement, she had John arrested for assault. Tommy was returned to Jennifer’s care the very same day. Jennifer said that when she woke up the next morning with Tommy by her side it was one of the happiest days of her life.

I joined Dara as pro bono counsel to help Jennifer take the necessary legal steps to ensure that she and Tommy could escape their terrible past with John and move on with their lives. Dara and I filed petitions in Bronx Family Court seeking an order of protection that would require John to stay away from Jennifer and Tommy and give Jennifer full custody.

As Jennifer and I waited in the gallery before each court appearance, I could feel her discomfort as John sat across the aisle only a few feet away.

We argued that the court should enter an order of protection based solely on threatening statements John made when he pled guilty to assaulting Jennifer. The court agreed and granted an order of protection for Jennifer. An issue remained, however, as to whether the order of protection could extend to Tommy as well. We were headed for trial.

A child’s safety, on trial

Jennifer took the witness stand and bravely recounted the terrifying details of the years of physical and emotional abuse John inflicted upon her in Tommy’s presence, and at times, while Tommy was in her arms.

John took the stand and insisted that he never laid a finger on Jennifer. It quickly became clear that the judge saw through his lies; our cross-examination was so withering that John’s lawyer interrupted the proceedings to protect him from further perjuring himself.

When we left court that day, we knew the worst was over. The court ruled fully in Jennifer’s favor, entering a final order of protection that would place John in contempt if he contacted Jennifer or Tommy for the next five years. Shortly thereafter, the court awarded Jennifer full custody over Tommy and denied John any visitation rights, a rarity in New York.

A new home and a new start

Our advocacy for Jennifer did not end with her legal victory. We worked to find her housing and helped arrange counseling for Tommy. And when Jennifer temporarily relocated to an apartment not far from my own, my wife and son joined Jennifer, Tommy, and me for a tour of her new neighborhood.

Jennifer was of course happy to have Sanctuary on her side, but I feel like the lucky one. Lucky to have learned so much from Dara about how to be a holistic advocate for my clients. And lucky to have met Jennifer, whom I have come to know as a caring mother, kind friend, and true survivor.

Sanctuary staff and pro bono attorneys assisted nearly 15,000 survivors like Jennifer and Tommy last year in reclaiming their lives after violence. When you make your gift, you ensure we can continue this life-saving work in 2016. Thank you.

Ben A. Schatz is a longtime Sanctuary pro bono attorney, and Co-Chair of Sanctuary’s Pro Bono Council.

#SeriouslyBloomingdales? Rape Culture Isn’t Funny.

High school girls and Sanctuary came together to tell Bloomingdales that rape culture isn’t funny.

Recently, Bloomingdales published a not-so-funny “prank” in their holiday catalogue. Here’s an idea, the ad suggests: “spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” At Sanctuary, we know how pervasive rape culture is, in our city and on our campuses.

So we asked a group of high school girls, how did you feel after seeing the Bloomingdales ad? Check our their powerful responses:


Executive Director Judy Kluger contacted Bloomingdale’s CEO to share what they said. Read on for Judy’s letter. Rape culture is pervasive in our society – but we all have the power to call it out.

November 17, 2015

Mr. Tony Spring
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
1000 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Dear Mr. Spring,

Selling Bloomingdale’s products by promoting rape culture is far more serious than a simple “error in judgment.”

What message could you have possibly intended to send with the ad, Spike Your Best Friend’s Eggnog When They’re Not Looking? That it’s OK to become a date rapist for the holidays?

Any high school student would have known better. In fact, in our work to combat gender violence, we showed your catalogue ad to a group of students who are involved in a leadership program for girls. Their immediate reactions were visceral. The ad made them feel scared, disgusted and disrespected. One student asked, “Is Bloomingdale’s really promoting rape?”

We will never know the true extent to which date rape drugs – like spiked eggnog – are used.

But, as a former New York State Supreme Court Judge and sex crimes prosecutor before that, I do know first-hand how dangerous these powerful drugs can be. A common side effect is memory loss. Victims awake from a drug-induced state, sick, frightened, hurt and unable to recall the attack. And for those who are able to remember, they are often too embarrassed to report the crime. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 82 percent of sexual assaults are committed by a non-stranger, much like the “friend” in your ad.

Glamorizing violence against women in advertising is not new, but it is time to stop. It is time that advertising and media executives and industry leaders, like yourself, step up and pledge to stop perpetuating images that portray women as easy targets of sexual violence.


Hon. Judy Harris Kluger
Executive Director
Sanctuary for Families