Aug 17, 2017

The Center for Safety & Change Assists Young Victim and Her Family

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 fo domestic violence, sexual abuse and other crimes. Since its inception in 1979, the Center has been the sole service provider to victims of sexual assault and their families in Rockland County, NY. The Center's Sexual Assault Program includes a 24-hour rape crisis hotline, accompaniment to court and other appointments, legal services, trial preparation, counseling and therapy, a 15-bed emergency residential shelter, services for families of survivors, support groups, translation, transportation, and a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner program at both of Rockland’s acute care hospitals. 

Over the last three months (May-July) the Center provided a total of 5,498 services to 206 sexual trauma victims/survivors. One of these survivors was a young girl named Marie*.  Marie was sexually assaulted when she was 11 years old by a family friend. The abuse went on for two years when he would come to visit the family or attend family parties. Marie was afraid to tell because he told her no one would believe her, and she would get in trouble for the sexual behavior. Marie finally told her parents when she could not take it anymore and was feeling like she wanted to end her life. Her parents reported the abuse to the police and he was arrested. Marie and her parents met with staff from the Center for Safety & Change for counseling and information about the court process. Marie understood that the abuse was not her fault, she identified healthy ways to cope with what happened to her, and was able to eventually focus on aspects of her life that were important to her, such as going to school, hanging out with friends, and joining school activities. Marie’s parents also received support during the investigation process and during the court proceedings. They became aware of what to look for when a child is being sexually abused and how to support their child after the disclosure. The perpetrator was convicted and will register as a sex offender. The Center was with the family throughout the entire process and provided support, through the investigation and prosecution.

 

*The client’s name has been changed in order to protect her identity*

May 22, 2017

8-year-old Rape Victim Courageously Brings Perpetrator to Justice

The Center for Safety & Change, Inc. (the Center) is a nonprofit agency serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes in Rockland County, NY.  Since its inception in 1979, the Center has been the sole service provider to victims of sexual assault and their families. The Center's Sexual Assault Program includes a 24-hour rape crisis hotline, accompaniment to court and other appointments, legal services, trial preparation, counseling and therapy, a 15-bed emergency residential shelter, services for families of survivors, support groups, translation, transportation, and a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner program at both of Rockland’s acute care hospitals.  

This reporting period, the Crime Victims Advocate worked with an 8-year-old bi-lingual (Spanish-speaking) rape victim who endured trauma beyond belief at the hands of an extended family member. The Crime Victims Advocate provided supportive counseling with a plethora of positive validations to the young survivor of the heinous crime as well as to the secondary survivor, the mother.  Both the child and the mother received individual therapy and attended support groups.

The ADA prosecuting the crime worked closely with the advocate to ensure the child and mother were not re-victimized during trial preparations, which were lengthy, extensive, and emotionally exhausting. The Advocate provided translation and interpretation of the legal process to the child, her mother, and for the prosecutor during trial preparations.

The perpetrator was offered a plea deal months before the trial, however, he refused the deal because he doubted the young girl's strength; he thought she would not be able to withstand the pressure of testifying in court. To the perpetrator's dismay, the child and her mother courageously appeared in court the day of trial, despite the criticism and threats of excommunication they had received from other family members. Once the perpetrator realized they were present and were prepared to move forward, he took the plea deal.  The perpetrator was sentenced to 14 years.

Working with a family that has undergone such a tumultuous crisis and ensuring their emotions not be hindered any further is a difficult task; however, the Special Victims Team worked together to ensure the child and mother were treated with compassion, love, and tenderness. During her time working with the Crime Victims Advocate, the child adopted the phrase "fearless", which helped her brave the legal journey she had ahead of her and continues to help her as she journeys through the healing process.  The child's artwork, which reads "FEARLESS" is attached to this story, and is proudly displayed on the Crime Victims Advocate's wall.

Feb 21, 2017

Special Victims Team Helps 5 Year Old Rape Victim

The Center for Safety & Change, Inc. (the Center) is a nonprofit agency serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes in Rockland County, NY.  Since its inception in 1979, the Center, formerly known as Rockland Family Shelter, has been the sole service provider to victims of sexual assault and their families. The Center’s Sexual Assault Program includes a 24-hour rape crisis hotline, counseling and therapy, a 15-bed emergency residential shelter, services for families of survivors, support groups, and a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner program at both of Rockland’s acute care hospitals. 

This reporting period, a Special Victims Advocate was referred a 5 years old who was sexually assaulted by her cousin.  The client came to the Special Victims Center and was able to specify exactly what happened to her and who sexually abused her. The young client informed the advocate that her 18 year old cousin sexually abused her and was able to explain that she was sexually assaulted by her cousin on multiple occasions.  The client’s cousin was arrested.

The client began receiving therapy at the Center and the client’s mother attended our support group for parents whose children have been sexually abused. Both client and her mother attended every session.

The perpetrator declined a plea bargain, therefore the client’s case went to trial. Once again, client, her mother, and her father were interviewed. After the family interview, the Center explained the legal process that would be taking place. The Center along with the multi-disciplinary team helped prepare the client for trial. The client bravely testified in front of a jury and her perpetrator. The jury found the perpetrator guilty on all 6 counts of sexual abuse.  Both the client and her mother are still currently in therapy through the Center once a week and are doing GREAT. The young client is so full of life and has such a great personality. She also has an amazing support system at home as well as here at the Center.

 
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