The Center for Safety & Change, Inc. (“the Center”) is a nonprofit agency whose mission is to develop strategies to end gender-based violence and provide shelter and supportive services that empower survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse and other crimes. Since its inception in 1979, the Center has been Rockland County's sole provider of domestic violence residential and non-residential services certified by the NYS Office of Child and Family Services and Rockland's only New York State Office of Victim Services designated Victim Assistance Program. In addition, all of the Center’s staff are certified and trained by the New York State Department of Health, all staff and volunteers are certified rape crisis counselors, and, within the last decade, the Center became the sole provider of services to victims of human trafficking.
The Center offers a comprehensive continuum of programs and services that are available in multiple languages to all victims, free of charge, regardless of age, citizenship, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, marital status, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. These services include, but are not limited to:
• Information and Referrals: information about the criminal justice process, information about victims’ rights, referrals to other victim service programs, and referrals to other services, supports, and resources;
• Advocacy and Accompaniment: victim advocacy/accompaniment to emergency medical care, victim advocacy/accompaniment forensic exams, law enforcement interview advocacy/accompaniment, individual advocacy, performance of medical forensic exam or interview, or medical evidence collection, immigration assistance, intervention with employer, creditor, landlord, or academic institution, childcare, transportation assistance, and translation/interpretation services;
• Emotional Support and Safety Services: crisis intervention, hotline/crisis line counseling, on-scene crisis response, individual counseling, support groups, therapy, and emergency financial assistance;
• Shelter and Housing Services: emergency shelter, transitional housing service, and relocation assistance; and
• Criminal and Civil Justice System Assistance: notification of criminal justice events, civil legal assistance in obtaining protection or restraining order, civil legal assistance with family law issues, immigration attorney assistance, prosecution interview advocacy/accompaniment, criminal advocacy/accompaniment, and other legal advice and/or counsel.
Over the last three months, the Center provided 8,337 services to 210 victims in the sexual trauma program.
This reporting period:
- The Center’s Senior SAFE Coordinator responded to a sexual assault case at a hospital in Rockland County, NY. The survivor was assaulted by an unknown male at a local hotel. Our SAFE examiner was able to connect the survivor with proper law enforcement officials, collect forensic evidence for processing, provided her with post-exposure prophylaxis for STI’s and was able to refer her for follow up and counseling after discharge. While speaking with the rape crisis counselor, the survivor disclosed that she was also a victim of child abuse and didn’t feel safe going home to her parents. The Rape Crisis Counselor and the SAFE examiner collaborated with the Emergency Department staff to report this to Child Protective Services and made arrangements to hold the survivor in the Emergency Department until a proper and safe disposition could be made.
- Center staff met with a sexual assault survivor in the hospital who was overwhelmed, afraid, and uncomfortable. The client was only Spanish speaking, which made her feel more unsafe due to everyone around her not speaking her language. Staff reassured the client they were there to help and provide services to them as well as to make her safe. After explaining services to client and explaining to her the SAFE exam client felt relieved to have someone who could understand her on an emotional level. Client was afraid to be alone and staff accompanied client throughout the exam as well to the police station. Staff provided client with emotional support, safety planned, crisis prevention, and validation. Client feels she would have been unable to go through the process if she didn’t have anyone there for her during this traumatizing moment.
- The Center worked with a woman who was sexually assaulted by a religious leader in her church. When she first came to therapy, she appeared to be very anxious, depressed, and even paranoid in her daily life. She has been working hard to get herself back to who she was before the attack—being honest in therapy on how she is feeling and processing when her anxiety is triggered and how to work through triggers. She found her strength while in therapy. Now, we are a few weeks away from trial and she said she feels strong enough to testify against him.