An Update on our Services

Learn more about the future of our services in the year ahead.

As New York continues to recover from the pandemic, Sanctuary is preparing for a new era of hybrid service provision — one that will better meet the needs of survivors living across New York’s five boroughs.

When the City went into lockdown in March 2020, we shifted our legal and clinical services and career readiness training to virtual platforms. Our social workers conducted counseling sessions through a telehealth platform, our Economic Empowerment Program shifted training to Zoom, and when the courts resumed hearings our attorneys represented survivors through Skype and Zoom. Of course not all services could be offered virtually. Sanctuary staff kept our five shelters open throughout the pandemic, supporting survivors and ensuring a clean environment for our residents.

Learn more about how we adapted our services here >

The changes we made across our programs revealed new opportunities for our work with adult and child survivors of gender violence. Learn what’s happening in the months ahead and how we plan to integrate our current virtual services with our traditional in-person support.

Office Re-Openings

Manhattan Office – Confidential Location

Our Manhattan Office is open for scheduled appointments Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm, on a case by case basis. Availability for in-person meetings will increase after Labor Day (Monday, September 6th). Please call 212.349.6009 or your Sanctuary point person to schedule an appointment.

Family Justice Centers

While Sanctuary’s shelters and Manhattan Office have remained open throughout the pandemic, New York City’s Family Justice Centers (FJCs) have largely operated virtually. The FJCs have traditionally provided valuable and accessible comprehensive services, particularly to survivors who prefer to drop in rather than make an appointment in advance. The Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence opened the Manhattan FJC last September for limited appointments two days a week. The other FJCs are re-opening on a limited basis as follows:

  • Manhattan FJC – The MFJC ramped up its on-site staffing and appointment capacity in early June. The MFJC is open on Monday and Friday during phase 2 of the reopening plan.
  • Staten Island FJC – The SIFJC opened its doors on Tuesday, June 8th for client appointments only. The SIFJC is open on Tuesday and Thursday during phase 2 of the FJC reopening plan.
  • Queens FJC – The Queens FJC opened its doors on Tuesday, July 6th for appointments only. The QFJC is open on Tuesday and Thursdays during phase 2 of the FJC reopening plan. 
  • Brooklyn FJC- The Brooklyn FJC will open their doors on Wednesday, August 4th for appointments only. The BKFJC will be open on Wednesday and Thursdays during phase 2 of the FJC reopening plan.
  • Bronx FJC – The Bronx FJC will open its doors in early August for appointments only on Tuesday and Thursday. The opening date is still to be determined. 

Contact an FJC office here >

EMPOWER Center

The EMPOWER Center remains open for virtual services and scheduled appointments only. To make an appointment, please call 212.238.4906.

Future of our services

Economic Empowerment

Before to the pandemic, Economic Empowerment Program (EEP) participants were expected to attend in-person classes at our confidential Manhattan office daily. Our computer labs, onsite childcare and prepaid MetroCards made this program accessible but for many, the commute added an extra layer of complexity to participants’ busy lives. The program was also especially challenging for those who did not have access to a computer or WiFi at home but wanted extra time to practice the skills they were building. The lock-down led Sanctuary to shift EEP online and provide participants with the necessary technology. Now, with generous support from Mobile Citizen for low-cost internet and long-term funding for laptops in the works, we plan to continue offering EEP as a hybrid of Zoom and in-person classes starting this fall. By providing program participants, and by extension their families, with technology to close the digital divide, greater flexibility, and the community that has always set EEP apart, we believe we can better support survivors on their professional journey.

If you would like to learn more about our Fall 2021 Economic Empowerment Program, please email Info@sffny.org

Legal Representation

New York State courts have reopened with most cases continuing to be heard virtually through Microsoft Teams. The shift to virtual court proceedings has revealed several benefits. Survivors save the time and money they would typically spend on childcare, time off from work, and/or the cost of the commute with the added benefit of not having to see or be near their abusive partner in court. While the future of court proceedings has yet to be determined, we expect virtual hearings to become a permanent option.

Family Court: Already-existing cases are continuing in the borough Family Courts where they started however newly filed cases that require immediate judicial attention can now be filed in a City-wide virtual court.

Immigration Court: Immigration Courts remain open. USCIS interviews and appointments have resumed. Non-detained removal defense cases resumed July 6, 2021.

Order of Protection (Family and Criminal): All Temporary Orders of Protection are continued until the next time the case is back in court.

Pro Bono Support: In April 2021, we launched a web-portal for pro bono attorneys to access sample documents, educational guides and a variety of other materials to help them with pro bono cases. Before the portal, these materials were typically shared on an individual, case-by-case basis by the supervising Sanctuary attorney. The launch of the portal makes it easier for our partners to learn the intricacies of gender violence cases and trauma-informed representation while freeing up time for our attorneys to provide oversight. Active pro bono attorneys can request access here.

Counseling

Sanctuary counselors will continue to provide counseling sessions to adults, children, and families through a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform with expanded availability for in-person counseling sessions beginning September 6th. As with many of our other services, counselors have found the shift to virtual services enables clients to attend sessions with more regularity because they do not have to worry about the commute or childcare. Virtual therapy, however, comes with several significant challenges including access to adequate technology and privacy, and the difficulty of building trust without the intimacy of in-person interaction. Read the reflections of our Children and Family counselors on virtual counseling here.

Housing and Shelter

Governor Cuomo has extended the moratorium on COVID-related residential and commercial evictions and foreclosure proceedings for those filing a hardship declaration until August 31, 2021. While Sanctuary’s shelters have remained open throughout the pandemic, our staff have continued working with survivors to secure permanent housing and relief through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Volunteer and In-Kind

Sanctuary is continuing to limit the number of individuals entering our confidential Manhattan Office. Please check back for updates and volunteer opportunities in August. If you would like to support survivors with material or in-kind donations, please browse our Amazon Wish List. The items listed are urgently needed by families visiting our offices and staying in our shelters.

 

 

 

Standing With LGBTQ+ Survivors

Intimate partner violence, like other forms of abuse­, does not discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.

Intimate partner violence, like other forms of abuse­, does not discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.

In honor of PRIDE, we’re hoping to bring attention to how intimate partner violence affects the LGBTQ+ community. We also want to remind our fellow New Yorkers that Sanctuary’s services are free and available to ALL individuals regardless of race, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, national origin, citizenship status, or marital status. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help.

Keep reading to learn more about safety planning and download our guide by clicking here.

Sanctuary at NYC Pride 2019

Intimate Partner Violence in the LGBTQ+ Community

Abuse occurs in LGBTQ+ relationships at similar or even higher rates than in the general population. According to a 2010 CDC survey, the lifetime prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) is significantly higher for bisexual women (61%) compared to that of lesbian (43%) and heterosexual women (35%).[1] Lesbian women and gay men also reported experiencing levels of sexual and intimate partner abuse similar to or higher than those of their straight counterparts.

Although data on IPV in the transgender community is much more limited, studies suggest that 31 to 50 percent of transgender people suffer from intimate partner abuse at some point in their lives, compared to 28 to 33 percent in the general population.[2] One study found the prevalence of IPV experienced by trans women in the past year to be twice as high as that of trans men (16% vs. 8%), a finding consistent with the higher prevalence of intimate partner abuse among women in general.[3]

While it is often assumed that abusers are either the male or more masculine-presenting partner in a relationship, it is important to note that violence can be perpetrated by any individual regardless of their physical or personal attributes.[4]In the CDC study, for example, bisexual and heterosexual survivors, of various genders, overwhelmingly reported having only perpetrators of a different gender.

At Sanctuary for Families, we recognize that LGBTQ+ individuals’ experiences of abuse are too often ignored or dismissed. We also know that members of this community face unique barriers to seeking help because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression. These may include the risk of rejection and isolation from family and friends; fear of being outed by their partner in retaliation; misconceptions about abuse in same-sex relationships; homelessness and trauma from police brutality; lack of confidence in service providers due to potential homophobia; limited availability of or awareness about LGBTQ-specific or LGBTQ-friendly services; among others. Trans people, in particular, have been impacted by COVID-19, including increased unemployment and homelessness, while also struggling to find adequate medical care and support.

Every day, we at Sanctuary strive to create a welcoming environment that fosters compassion and mutual respect where all survivors can find safety and stability as they rebuild their lives in the aftermath of abuse. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, please do not hesitate to reach out.

GET HELP

Safety Planning: A Guide for Survivors, by Survivors

English | Español | Français | Deutschالعربية | 中文 | 한국어 

The following Safety Planning Guide was created by members of Sanctuary’s Survivor Leadership program and has been reviewed by multiple clinicians. The guide draws from survivors’ and clinicians’ expertise, as well as from safety planning models from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Sanctuary for Families, and Love is Respect.

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Download this guide with safety tips from survivors.

What Is a Safety Plan?

A safety plan is a set of steps you can take to reduce the risk of harm in unsafe situations with an abuser or family member. With the changes in our environments due to coronavirus, we advise survivors of gender-based violence to consider the following safety tips created by survivors.  Sanctuary for Families’ team of Survivor Leaders put this list together in hopes of providing digital tools for safety during this time.

Why Should I Create a Safety Plan?

It can be hard to think and react in a time of emergency or high stress, especially with the added stress and uncertainty of coronavirus, so it is helpful to create a plan in advance. It is also important to update your safety plan often, as circumstances can change.  Abusers often try to have power and control over a survivor’s life, and a safety plan is one way a survivor can have power and control over their own situation, as much as they can.  Having a plan can empower you to make the safest decisions you can for your situation.

You are the Expert

You know your situation better than anyone, so please individualize your safety plan to what feels safest for you.  If something does not feel safe, trust your instincts.  For example, it may not be safe to complete a safety plan in writing, but you can still review one in your head and memorize it as best you can.  It can also be helpful to go over your safety plan with a trusted friend or relative.

Digital Safety

Please try to use a safer computer or phone that someone abusive does not have direct or remote (hacking) access to.  Digital stalking is one way for abusers to try to exert power and control. Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call instead. If you use email or texting, please use a safer computer or phone and an account your abuser does not know about.

For more information on computers, the internet, and digital safety, click here.

Increased risk of harm due to COVID-19

As many of us are practicing social distancing and quarantine, there are many additional risks for survivors and their safety, such as:

  • Isolation: Abusers can use this time to further isolate survivors from their loved ones. They may also use this as a time to further restrict a survivor’s movement in person, controlling where they go and when. They might also control a survivor’s interactions online, limiting their access to the outside world.
  • Restricting Access to Information: Abusers may also restrict access to the news and other outlets, making themselves the source of all information.
  • Increased Abuse: The abuse may worsen during this time as survivors may be spending more time in contact with their abusers. Survivors may also experience new or different types of abuse during this time.
  • In-Person and Digital Stalking: Abusers might try to exert their power by trying to monitor, control and stalk survivors in person and digitally.
  • Financial Abuse: Many individuals are experiencing financial burdens due to being unable to work, and abusers may further financially exploit survivors during this time.
  • Parenting: Survivors who co-parent their children with their abusers may be facing unique challenges during these times, such as barriers to visitation and/or increased exposure to the abuser due to lack of accessible childcare.  For example, in order for a survivor to work, he/she/they may need to utilize their abuser for childcare.

SAFETY TIPS FROM SURVIVORS

1. Buddy System Code Word

Identify at least two people that you can contact with a “code word” to let them know if you are in trouble. Plan in advance what they should do if you send them the code word.

2. “Safest Room”

If there is an argument, identify an area of the home you can move to where there are no weapons and there are ways for you to leave the house, apartment, or building, such as a door or window to exit the house/apartment. For some survivors, especially those quarantined at home with an abuser during coronavirus, no room may feel safe, so we call it the “safest rooms”. If you can at least identify the lowest risk areas, you may be able to reduce harm.

3. Planning with Children

  • Code Words: If you have children, decide how to communicate urgency. For example, when one survivor’s daughter was little, the survivor would open her arms and the daughter knew that meant to come running to her for safety.  Some survivors also create a “code word” with their children that means they should go to the “safest room” in the home that you have already decided upon.
  • Emergency Numbers: If for some reason you are not able to make emergency calls and you have children, give them the safety number/s, if they are old enough. Please see the Resources section listed below for some emergency phone numbers.

4. Notifying the Police Before an Emergency

Ahead of time, you can notify your local police station of your concerns. Let them know the history and your concern of being in isolation due to coronavirus. It may be useful to speak with the Domestic Violence officer.

5. Exit Plan

In case you have to flee, create an exit plan ahead of time with someone who could support this need. Is there a trusted friend/relative who you can stay with if needed?

6. Supplies, Food & Medication

Check your supplies and food. If you need food and do not have the money, check your local pantry, temple/church/mosque/etc., or other community organizations. Remember to keep your medication in the safest, easily accessible location in case of emergency.

7. Emergency Bag

Pack an emergency bag with an extra set of keys, clothes for you and your children, a pay-as-you-go cell phone, medications, copies of important documents, etc.

8. Important Documents

Make copies or take pictures of your important documents for yourself and send them to a trusted friend or relative. Important documents may include IDs, social security cards, immigration documents, birth certificates, health insurance information, and Orders of Protection.  As mentioned earlier, be mindful of sending anything via phone or computer.  Please use whatever method is safest for you.

9. Seeking Social Support

With social distancing and quarantining, survivors can feel even more isolated, and abusers may use further isolation as a power and control tactic. Identify trusted friends, relatives or even online support groups where you can still connect virtually.  If you have a friend who may be experiencing abuse, be sure to reach out to them even more during this time.

10. Creating a “Peaceful Space”

Many survivors are feeling forced to spend more time with an abuser during the coronavirus outbreak because they may feel unsafe leaving the home, as well as unsafe staying in the home. If you cannot leave your home, try to create a “peaceful space” for yourself in your home (if that is safe for you). You can draw pictures of a more peaceful place and put them on a wall to help you take an emotional break to visualize a more peaceful place.  This is also an activity you can do with your children.  You can also write positive affirmations and put them up on the wall to remind yourself of your worth.

11. Holding onto Your Plan

Consider keeping a list of your safety plan in your phone or wherever might be safe for you. Please consider what is safest for you. If you choose to write your plan somewhere, consider listing only key words that help you remember the plan, but that would not be clear to your abuser. If this is not safe, try to memorize your plan, focusing on memorizing at least one key emergency number on your list of resources.

Resources

All of the following resources are accessible, despite the coronavirus outbreak.

  • 9-1-1: In case of an emergency at any time, please call 911.
  • Emergency SOS on iPhone: Here is a link to a shortcut to using Emergency SOS to quickly and easily call for help and alert your emergency contacts if you have an iPhone: How to Use Emergency SOS on your iPhone
  • Emergency Location Sharing on Androids and iPhones: Here is a link for how to set up emergency location sharing on your phone, in case you want to share your location with a trusted friend or relative in case of emergency: How to Use Emergency Location Sharing
  • Sanctuary for Families Hotline: Sanctuary for Families’ Hotline is still accessible from Monday-Friday from 9 AM- 5 PM. Please call us at 212-349-6009
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: The National Domestic Violence Hotline is still accessible 24/7. Please call them at 1-800-799-7233
  • National Human Trafficking Hotline: The National Human Trafficking Hotline is still accessible 24/7. Please call them at 1-888-373-7888 or text them at 233-733
  • Suicide Hotline: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is still accessible 24/7. Please call them at 1-800-273-8255

By: Monica Harris, Survivor Leader & Shobana Powell, LCSW, Director of Survivor Leadership Institute.

Reviewed by: Flore Baptiste, Carmen Guzman Lombert, Survivor Leader, Cristian Eduardo, Survivor Leader, and Hazell Imbert, LMHC, Counselor in Residential Services.

[1] Walters, M.L, J. Chen, and M.J. Breiding. “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation.” Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013.

[2] Brown, Taylor N.T., and Jody L. Herman. “Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Abuse among LGBT People.” Los Angeles, CA: The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, 2015.

[3] Clements, K., M. Katz, and R. Marx. “The Transgender Community Health Project.” San Francisco, CA: University of California San Francisco, 1999.

[4] Human Rights Campaign. “Common Myths about LGBTQ Domestic Violence,” October 18, 2017.

food insecurity; food grants; new york city

A Survivor-Centered Approach to Food Insecurity During COVID-19

With the support of our corporate and institutional partners, from mid-March through October, Sanctuary distributed over $250,000 to more than 425 families for emergency food, supplies, rent, medicine, clothing, and more.

Food insecurity, an important risk indicator for intimate partner violence (IPV), has skyrocketed over the last year due to COVID-19. The ongoing loss of jobs and wages, coupled with safety and mobility issues, has forced thousands of households across New York to cut down on the quantity and quality of their food consumption. The closures of NYC schools and the overburdening of food banks have further exacerbated the demand for food and groceries. As a result, roughly one in four New Yorkers is experiencing hunger.

For many survivors, food insecurity was already an issue before the pandemic. Researchers have found a strong connection between IPV and food insecurity. Evidence shows that:

  1. Financial abuse – or the control of one’s ability to acquire, use and maintain money by an intimate partner – can lead to food insecurity;
  2. Survivors who escape abuse disproportionately rely on public assistance and low-wage jobs for survival and thus face a higher risk of food insecurity;
  3. Factors that give rise to food insecurity, such as poverty and financial stress, also serve as indicators for increased risk of violence.

As one of New York State’s leading providers of comprehensive services for survivors of gender violence, Sanctuary plays a critical role in helping New York’s most marginalized families find and maintain safety and stability. We have always had clients who struggle to afford or access food while escaping abusive relationships. Since mid-March, however, we have seen food insecurity skyrocket to become the single most pressing need for the thousands of families we serve.

Some food resources have become more accessible in NYC than in the first months of the crisis, however, there are still many barriers to food security for our clients including:

  1. Ongoing job loss and lost wages;
  2. Undocumented and partially-documented immigrant clients cut out of public resources and continued fear of ICE raids in public spaces like food banks;
  3. Limited options and timing restrictions for those who do qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits;
  4. Long lines, pre-selected options, and limited hours and locations for food banks making access difficult for clients with limited mobility, childcare concerns, inflexible work hours, and dietary issues.
  5. Additionally, the looming housing crisis will undoubtedly exacerbate food insecurity for many forced to choose between paying rent and buying food.

Recognizing the urgency of the issue, we have kept food pantries at our five shelters and main office fully stocked throughout the pandemic. To meet the increased demand, support non-shelter clients, and protect the safety of clients and staff throughout COVID-19, we have developed a more flexible and survivor-centered approach to food grant distribution. New standardized guidelines for distribution of food grants, developed by staff across program and administrative departments, are based on household size and receipt of SNAP. We also created a shorter, digitized grant request process that improves transparency, enables remote access, allows for easier purchasing via credit card, and gets money for food into the hands of our clients more quickly. Most importantly, we dramatically expanded use of electronic gift cards and grocery delivery services.

We are proud to announce that through this new approach, and with the support of our corporate and institutional partners, from mid-March through October, Sanctuary distributed over $250,000 to more than 425 families for emergency food, supplies, rent, medicine, clothing, and more via electronic gift cards and delivery services like Amazon Prime, Walmart, Fresh Direct, and Target. By expanding the receipt and delivery options available to survivors, our approach recognizes that clients know what is best for their families—whether that be culturally-specific foods or more dietary options. This approach also addresses the inequities that result in food deserts and delivery dead-zones in some communities — inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Even with the successful delivery of our services and our significantly expanded emergency food grants program over the last nine months, we know that demand will only keep growing. Given the spike in domestic violence and ongoing economic crisis, we anticipate a long-term need for support and services even after the city reopens. Despite the ongoing challenges, Sanctuary will continue to utilize existing private funding sources and identify new opportunities to meet our clients’ evolving food needs throughout and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

Our sincere gratitude goes out to The Gerstner Family Foundation, Robin Hood Relief Fund, NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund, Brooklyn Community Foundation, No Kid Hungry, Tikkun Olam Foundation, Capital One, Monday.com, the Sunshine Foundation, and French-American Aid for Children, for supporting Sanctuary’s client emergency grants programs during these unprecedented times.

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.

Warmly,

Hon. Judy Harris Kluger,
Executive Director