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#THRIVEUP w/ SAFE HORIZON “Because when home is where the harm is, #safetyisessential”

#THRIVEup is a series about ‘Trusting the Process’. I’ve worked with Safe Horizon and contributed on the board of this amazing non profit for the past 7 years. With this being Mental Health Awareness month, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate organization for this next feature. Safe Horizon is the leading victim’s assistance organization in […]

#THRIVEup is a series about ‘Trusting the Process’. I’ve worked with Safe Horizon and contributed on the board of this amazing non profit for the past 7 years. With this being Mental Health Awareness month, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate organization for this next feature.

Safe Horizon is the leading victim’s assistance organization in the U.S and has been in existence for over 40 years and serving over 250,000+ survivors.

I ‘ZOOM ROOMED’ with Arisly Rodriguez, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker that has worked within Safe Horizon for about 9 years.  She has worked closely supporting children and their families whom have experienced traumatic events throughout the entirety of her work within the agency. Safe Horizon is focused on moving victims of violence from crisis to confidence.  She has had hands-on experience working within the Queens Child Advocacy Center as a Senior Case Manager and as a Clinical Forensic Specialist then moved into the role of a newer program, The Child Trauma Response Team (CTRT), as Clinical Director and now Senior Director of this program.  Arisly helps to inform the clinical practice framework of CTRT along with all 5 Child Advocacy Centers with a trauma informed anti-oppressive lens.  Throughout these 9 years, Arisly continues to work collaboratively with the NYPD Domestic Violence Units, the District Attorney’s office and other community based organizations.  She is also a recent graduate of the NY Community Trust Leader Fellowship.

CB: Arisly, thank you and Safe Horizon for taking part in the #THRIVEUP series!  Can you tell us a little bit about Safe Horizon, their mission and accomplishments to date?

AR: Thank you, Christina! Happy to speak with you and the Thrive Global readers today!

Our mission at Safe Horizon is to provide support, prevent violence and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities. 

We also have programs that assist survivors of sexual assault, childhood sex abuse, and youth homelessness. We are based in New York City, serving survivors in the five boroughs. Our survivors are primarily referred to us through our hotline 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) which is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.  We also receive referrals from our Crime Victim Assistance Program advocates based in NYPD precincts throughout the five boroughs. In my division, Child Trauma Response Team also referred to as CTRT, we receive also receive our referrals through our domestic violence shelters are based in New York City, serving survivors in the five boroughs. 

In the past two years, for our domestic violence survivors, we have: 

  • Answered over 80,000 calls to the Domestic Violence Hotline.  
  • Provided a safe haven to over 800 victims of domestic violence and over 1,200 children at our Domestic Violence Shelters 
  • Our Domestic Violence Law Project provided over 1,200 clients free legal representation, information, and consultation to domestic violence victims on family law matters. 
  • Provided outreach, advocacy, and case management to over 15,000 survivors through our Crime Victims Assistance Program 
  • We’ve helped almost 4,000 clients with advocacy, case management and supportive counseling in our Family Courts Program. 

And for our child abuse victims, in the past two years we:

  • Served nearly 10,000 children and close to 4,000 caregivers found healing and hope at our Child Advocacy Centers. 
  • Provided services to over 1800 families through the Child Trauma Response Team (CTRT) and has conducted over 2000 individual child trauma screenings
  • And provided free, supportive, educational childcare to over 9,000 children at our 6 Children’s Centers in New York City courts.

For adult child abuse survivors we:

  • Successfully advocated to obtain passage of the Child Victims Act in New York State in January 2019 that extends the statute of limitations for survivors to gain justice by filing civil cases against their abusers.

CB: In light of recent events, we are reading more and more about victims being in quarantine with their abusers.  Can you share some incidents that Safe Horizon is experiencing?


AR: During our current health crisis, staying at home is supposed to keep us safe. But some homes hurt. 

Victim and survivor services for hundreds of thousands of children and adults across New York City are needed now more than ever, when privacy, connection and leaving are harder, if not impossible. 

So Safe Horizon is here. For you. With you. Through it all. 

Victims are isolated with their abusers; Abusers knowing and taking advantage of victims being home, so showing up in their neighborhoods and at their doors; harassing them.  This is happening often

This one was shared by CVAP: a DV survivor whose partner who tested positive for COVID-19 spit on her threatening to give her the virus. Abusers using COVID-19 to take advantage of their victims. 

Our shelters are still open. Our staff are working tirelessly on the frontlines of the pandemic to keep people safer. 

On the phone, through video conference, secure chat, and even in-person. 

But we need more than awareness. 

Because when home is where the harm is, safety is essential

“During our current health crisis, staying at home is supposed to keep us safe. But some homes hurt.”

@safehorizon

CB: Some of our readers may be in a situation themselves at home and a little unsure of what their next steps can be to help them THRIVE through.  Can you provide a step by step scenario of the process and emotions they could expect once they contact Safe Horizon?

AR: Here is a link to the DV safety blog: https://www.safehorizon.org/programs/3-safety-tips-domestic-violence-coronavirus-quarantine

  • Consider creating a safety plan
  • Stay in touch with you support network
  • Know there is help

And a link to the child abuse safety blog: https://www.safehorizon.org/programs/3-ways-protect-children-abuse-covid-19-coronavirus/

  • We are open and here to help anyone in need. We urge individuals seeking help to call our hotline at 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).
  • When you call the hotline, you will be greeted by a trained staff person who is caring and here to talk to you about your needs. Our representatives will listen to your needs and your priorities and direct your case to the appropriate team that can best serve you, whether it is for counseling, a shelter request, or resources to learn about your options. 
  • Whatever your needs, especially when it comes to trauma counseling, we provide an understanding, caring and nonjudgmental space for you.  

CTRT works with Children and their caregivers who have experienced a recent violent event.  We provide short term trauma focused counseling that can be done over the phone, video chat and soon again in person.  Our goal is to help victims and their children reduce their trauma reactions in hopes of reducing the probability of being diagnosed with PTSD in the future.  You can feel free to contact our Safe Horizon Hotline which will guide you in connecting with us.

CB: Can you share some success stories of some victims that have reached out to Safe Horizon?

AR: From CTRT: We’ve remained connected with families throughout this time although our services are usually shorter termed.  In doing so we have continued to support families in reducing their trauma reactions and become connected to their tangible needs.  Providing food vouchers, coping skills, a few moments of respite and lastly therapeutic care packages are in route to them.  

From Brooklyn Family Court: We’ve been able to successfully get orders of protection processed much quicker during the pandemic within a matter of hours versus a day or two it would take under normal circumstances.

From Crime Victim Assistance Program (CVAP): For survivors of sexual assault, we’ve also expanded our Special Victims Division advocates in our Crime Victim Assistance Program department to be in more NYPD precincts in Manhattan and the Bronx in addition to other boroughs.

From Safe Way Forward: have been able to navigate and provide group counseling via video conference.

All programs have successfully been navigating remaining connected with clients and engaging new clients with open arms.


CB: Safe Horizon is a non profit and relies strongly on the support of donors and fundraising events to operate.  Can you share with us some of the difficulties the organization is experiencing and how are you pivoting during this pandemic?

AR: It is a difficult time for many nonprofits. We have been fortunate that many donors have really stepped up to offer new or additional support notably with the heightened public awareness about the increased risk for domestic violence and child abuse. 

Donors have expressed their concern and mentioned that these have been motivating factors for their gifts. Still, not being able to have in-person events and other changes are real challenges, and we know that survivors are facing more need for our services than ever before.

CB: Can you share some examples of what a donor can expect with their donation?

AR: We have been using our funds to ensure that Safe Horizon’s essential services can remain open every single day for anyone in need of support and safety, and that other programs which are now connecting with survivors remotely have the tools they need. 

Donations support us to offer PPE and emergency supplies at our drop-in centers, to make sure families have three meals a day while sheltering in place at our domestic violence shelters, to pay staff who are on the frontlines of New York and still traveling to work every day, and so many more examples. 

CB: What are the future goals now for Safe Horizon and why are they important to help victims THRIVE?


AR: Our future goals are to be prepared for the anticipated influx of reporting we expect to receive once the quarantine is lifted. Given reporting is currently down though the risk for incidents is high, we want to be prepared in the event that we begin to receive a huge uptick in calls and reporting.

In addition, due to the traumatic stress individuals are under as a result of COVID-19, we are prepared to serve those seeking trauma counseling services.

CB: For those who may fear a loved one is in an abusive situation, can you share with us some common ‘Red Flags’ we may see and some advice on how to approach the conversation?

AR: We have a great blog on the Safe Horizon site that lists 7 warning signs of someone experiencing Domestic Violence. In addition to those tips abusers use ways such as intimidation, isolation, coercion and threats to remain in control.  For example, threatening to call immigration on a partner that might be undocumented, threatening and/ or actually calling ACS making false reports as a way to maintain some type of control.  

Safe horizon staff can be support in helping a victim become more informed about how to navigate all of these systems.  We provide linkages and advocacy with ACS if the they would like that kind of support.  Letting them lead in their priorities and how they would like us to support them in these spaces.  Again free of judgement, just holding a space to listen to their experiences and hopefully providing some kind of relief for them.

This blog offers some signs to look for: https://www.safehorizon.org/safe-horizon-in-the-news/7-warning-signs-domestic-violence-victim/

CB: If you could share some encouraging words to someone in need or know of someone in an abusive situation, what would they be?

AR: Know that help is available. Safe Horizon thrives to help and provide a place of safety for you to feel comfortable and trust. When you feel that you have no one to turn to, we are here. The first step is to talk about it!

CB: What are some ways people can volunteer or help spread the word to help Safe Horizon THRIVE in their mission?

AR: There are a number of ways to volunteer with us. Leaders on the Horizon is our young professional fundraising group where members strive to generate awareness and funds for Safe Horizon and play a vital role in bringing about impactful solutions for our clients. Our CTRT program and CAC’s also accept volunteers on-site, pending a background check, during normal (non-COVID) times. There are a lot of ways workplaces and organizations can engage with us, so we love building partnerships with NY businesses who want to show their commitment. We also encourage individuals to follow and repost our social media posts on their own channels to spread the word.

Arisly, thank you again so much for taking the time to speak with us in the #THRIVEUP series!

The following again are all points of contact for victims, donors and volunteers as well some links to Safe Horizon ambassador’s!

  • Hotline:  1-800-621-HOPE (4673)
  • Social media for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: @SafeHorizon
  • www.safehorizon.org

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