The Center for Safety & Change, Inc. (“the Center”) is a nonprofit agency whose mission is to provide critical services and support to women and all victims and survivors of gender-based violence and other crimes while working toward justice by creating social changes. imes. 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 6,166 services to 208 victims in the sexual trauma program. In additon, 7 SAFE exams were performed.
This reporting period, the Center worked with a young woman who has been receiving therapy services at the Center since the shutdown caused by the pandemic. She and her therapist have worked together to help her address the sexual trauma she experienced from a male friend over the course of a couple of years, as well as the severe physical and emotional abuse by her parents since she was a young child.
Since beginning here at the Center, she has achieved some of her goals including completing her master’s degree, moving out of her parent’s home where she was continuing to experience abusive treatment, and, just recently, meeting with an advocate to explore her legal options regarding reporting the sexual abuse to law enforcement. This is a difficult step for her to take as she does not have emotional support from anyone, including family members and is concerned about her own safety; she also worries that her perpetrator has and/or will hurt other people. This is very troubling to her and one of the reasons she wants to take action.
It is common for many of our clients to be socially isolated and lack a support system, like this young woman. We know that isolation is a tactic used by abusers and addressing this with our clients is a vital part of therapy. She did not feel worthy of being loved and believed there was something wrong with her that caused others to mistreat her and take advantage of her. She believed it was better and safer for her to not try to seek out friendships.
This client shares she wants to continue to engage in therapy as the trauma she has experienced still affects her in various ways. She knows she is not where she wants to be yet, but she also feels the positive changes she has achieved. While she previously believed that no one would ever really care about her, she now believes she can develop mutually supportive, healthy relationships and she is seeking this out. She has recently said: “I know I’m capable of making friends”; “I know my parents have their own issues, it’s not my fault, I know I can’t rely on them;” I know I can do the things I want to do, in the future;” “Being in therapy has really helped me.”