With DA Cy Vance’s grant, Sanctuary and STEPS to End Family Violence launch the FamilySafe Program

Thanks to a generous grant from DA Cy Vance, Sanctuary and STEPS to End Family Violence are thrilled to be launching the FamilySafe Program which will offer family-focused therapy treatment to victims of domestic violence and their children.

“By [investing in youth and families] we believe that we can limit [children] becoming involved in the criminal justice system in the first place… Law enforcement has to understand that we’re not going to prosecute and arrest our way out of the problems that we have in our society, we’re going to have to get serious about investing in our kids.”

– Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance

Back in February, Manhattan DA Cy Vance announced the grant awardees of a $58 million dollar investment into youth and families to prevent crime in Manhattan. As a recipient of nearly $1.5 million in funding over three years, Sanctuary, in partnership with STEPS to End Family Violence, is preparing to launch the FamilySafe Program. Speaking at the grantee ceremony earlier this year, Sanctuary Executive Director Hon. Judy Harris Kluger shared how the FamilySafe Program will help heal and empower New York families.

“Every year, tens of thousands of children right here in New York City witness the horror of domestic violence in their own homes. The damage is incalculable.

Exposure to domestic violence in a child’s life is associated with increased levels of high-risk behavior, like substance abuse and gang involvement. One study found men who were exposed to abuse and domestic violence as children were almost four-times more likely to become abusers than men who had not been exposed.

Thanks to the Manhattan District Attorney’s generous grant, Sanctuary for Families will work in partnership with STEPS to End Family Violence, to launch the FamilySafe Program. The program expands on our existing clinical services that strengthen relationships between parents who suffer domestic abuse and their children who witness it.

This grant will allow us to serve 225 new families – every year – providing them with intensive evidence-based treatment or with assessments for family therapy and parenting services.

This initiative will go a long way to reduce the trauma in children, improve parents’ confidence and optimism, and break the inter-generational cycle of violence for the families we serve.”

Building on over 30 years of clinical services and expertise

The launch of the FamilySafe program marks an exciting and important step forward for our clinical department. Over the last decade, research into traumatic stress and PTSD has given way to a greater understanding of the symptoms and effects of trauma as well as several therapy methods (also called evidence-based treatment) that have been proven to be effective in treating trauma victims AND their families.

Since 1985, Sanctuary has provided specialized services to children who have been victims or witnesses of domestic violence in their homes. Acutely aware of how domestic violence affects entire families, we have built a strong portfolio of trauma-focused, culturally and linguistically sensitive clinical services for domestic violence victims and their children. This portfolio is one that we are proud of and one that we continually seek to improve upon and expand. With the launch of the FamilySafe Program, our Clinical team hopes to begin a larger transition from separate counseling services for adults and their children to an attachment-focused family therapy approach (also known as dyadic family therapy) that both treats the trauma children have experienced and rebuilds the trust and attachment between the non-abusing parent and child.

Rolling out the FamilySafe Program

At this time, the roll-out of the FamilySafe Program is just beginning. Sanctuary is currently developing an assessment tool which we will integrate into our intake screenings so that we can identify families who would benefit from dyadic family therapy. With the assessment tool in place, specialized staff on-boarded, and our clinical department trained on the new process, we will begin intake.

Between Sanctuary and STEPS to End Family Violence, we aim to assess 225 families and provide intensive evidence-based, family attachment-focused treatment to 150 of those families annually. In addition to specialized treatments, STEPS and Sanctuary will each offer two to three cycles of Parenting Journey, a program which helps parents build stronger families by developing the inner strengths, life skills, and networks of resources they need to succeed. In each cycle, 8-10 families will meet for two hours a week for three to four months. Parents will be able to participate in activities, discussions, and family-style meals with complimentary childcare included.

Over the next two and a half years of the FamilySafe Program, Sanctuary will track and assess the program’s impacts. Assuming we see the positive effects we expect, we will look for ways to continue and expand the program.

Keep an eye out for more updates as we roll out this exciting new initiative!

 

 

10 times we came closer to ending gender violence in 2015

In 2015, we faced successes and challenges in our continued to work to end gender violence. Thank you for joining us.

1) Passing the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA)

After nearly four years of advocacy, we finally saw TVPJA pass in New York State. This new law increases penalties for traffickers and improves protections for minor victims of sex trafficking. It took incredible hard work and collaboration on the part of organizers, legislators, survivors, friends and peers to make this happen.

2) Giving 146 women a new shot at economic stability through our Economic Empowerment Program (EEP)

In August, we held our second graduation of 2015 for participants who completed our Office Operations Workshop. Throughout the year, 146 women completed EEP programming, gaining interview skills, job search assistance, intensive IT training and MS Office certifications. On average, graduates from the program in 2015 had a starting salary of $12.90, over $4 more than New York State’s private sector minimum wage.

3) Increasing our impact by 50%

We served nearly 15,000 adults, women and children – an increase of 50% from our previous year’s service numbers. Additionally, we doubled the number of people reached through our outreach efforts, connecting with over 40,000 community members, law enforcement officials, teachers, faith leaders, and others who seek to make a difference for survivors of gender violence.

4) Getting survivors out of shelter and into housing

We run five shelters at Sanctuary, including New York’s largest transitional domestic violence shelter, Sarah Burke House. But with the housing crisis in New York City, the numbers of clients successfully transitioning from shelter to safe housing dwindled. Thanks to the city’s new LINC program and amazing advocacy by our staff and partners, 70% of our Sarah Burke House clients found safe housing – up from 32% the previous year.

5) Launching the Domestic Violence Intervention, Education and Prevention Program (DVIEP)

In March, Sanctuary launched DVIEP, placing case managers at nine Police Service Areas throughout NYC. These case managers conduct outreach and assist survivors of domestic violence living in NYC public housing – their work is critical for educating police and the community.

6) Celebrating 30 years of Sanctuary

In June, we celebrated our thirtieth year of serving survivors of gender violence in New York. While Sanctuary’s mission, scope and size have changed over time, we remain true to our orginal goal: helping adults and children live life free from abuse.

7) Raising $2.1 million and breaking records at Zero Tolerance

Our Zero Tolerance Benefit in June is a beloved Sanctuary tradition, and year after year serves as a game-changing fundraiser that keeps us going in this life-saving work. We were so excited when our supporters came through this year by helping us raise over $2.1 million at the event – breaking a record for the most ever raised at ZT!

8) Unveiling the new sanctuaryforfamilies.org

After seven years of serving us well, Sanctuary’s website was in desperate need of a face lift. In July we were so excited to launch a brand new website: the new site makes it easier to get help, learn about domestic violence, see Sanctuary’s impact, hear from our clients, and features our brand-new blog.

9) Reaching more families than ever at the holidays

With significant increases in our programming and the number of survivors we serve, we saw many high-needs families in need of joy, cheer and support this holiday season. Thankfully, our amazing donors “adopted” 139 families and fulfilled their holiday wishlists. Other supporters and volunteers made it possible for us to distribute 1,400 more gifts to additional clients in need!

10) Speaking out against hate, and envisioning a peaceful 2016

It was a remarkable year here at Sanctuary. This work is never easy, and for all the joys there were many challenges, including hateful political rhetoric that impacted many of our Muslim clients and staff. Take a moment to read Executive Director Judy H. Kluger’s New Year’s message, which speaks out against the prejudice we saw in 2015, and envisions a better year to come.

Thank you for all of your support.

Empowering Teens to Break the Cycle of Domestic Violence (part 2)

It’s not easy being 17. At Sanctuary, we’re working to help teens navigate negative messages and achieve healthy relationships.

This is the second part of a two-part interview. Read part one.

At Sanctuary, I have the opportunity to work with teens like Lena to counteract messages about unhealthy relationships and “break the cycle” of domestic violence.

The Children and Youth Services Program staff offer a range of services specifically designed to meet the needs of teens – from individual counseling, to educational support, leadership workshops, and even a comprehensive Afterschool Enrichment Program that operates three days per week.

During counseling sessions with Lena, we spent a lot of time talking about what kind of things she would want in a relationship, what she felt she needed from a supportive partner. We talked about different aspects of the unhealthy and abusive relationship she had witnessed between her parents, and what the alternatives were for a healthy relationship.

I never tell a teen I’m working with what to do – that doesn’t work. I want teens to really think about these things on their own, with my help, so that they can figure out what they want in their lives and what they want out of a loving relationship.

I help them understand that because they saw violence growing up doesn’t necessarily mean it is normal or okay, but instead that there are all different ways to have a relationship and to communicate effectively what you want and how you feel.

The biggest challenge I face is working with teens families who have so many competing needs. Most of the families I work with have really concrete issues that need to be addressed, due to financial struggles, and due to systems that continue to oppress the teen and their family (including the public benefits system, education system, court system, or just racism/classism/sexism in general).

When my clients are returning to chaotic and violent neighborhoods and homes, it’s hard to help them focus during a counseling session on discussing their feelings.

That said, working with teens is amazing. I’ve worked with teens and young people from 12-25 years of age from all over the world and various educational, socio-economic, religious, and ethnic/racial backgrounds and I have learned something from all of them.

One thing I’ve learned, is that teens can tell when you’re being fake or just trying to placate them – if you’re honest with them, they will be honest with you. It’s a great feeling to get to know a teen, have them share things with you about their lives, and then help them figure out what they want for themselves and how to achieve it.

For Lena, talking through practical examples of healthy versus not healthy relationships was huge. She started thinking that healthy relationships were impossible, but eventually saw they were possible and that she deserved to have healthy relationships in the future.

The power of providing services to teens is that I can intervene at a really critical time in a teen’s life, and empower a teen like Lena to create a really different, healthy and fulfilling future for herself.

Andrea Yeriazarian has been working with kids and teens since she became a social worker 11 years ago. Andrea has spent 9 of those years with Sanctuary’s Children’s and Youth Services Program, and has been a leader in shaping the agency’s services for teens.

View all of our Domestic Violence Awareness Month blog posts and awareness-raising efforts!