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City and U.S. Department of Justice Partner on "NYC Polyvictimization Collaborative Project" to Ensure Victims of Violence Have Full, Comprehensive Support

November 29, 2016

Through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the Office to Combat Domestic Violence, Queens Family Justice Center will be first to screen survivors for multiple forms of victimization and trauma in order to enhance direct services and advocacy

NEW YORK—The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence today announced a $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for a pilot program to enhance services for victims of intimate partner violence who have suffered multiple forms of trauma, or polyvictimization. The NYC Polyvictimization Collaborative Project pilot will enable the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence to develop an appropriate polyvictimization screening tool that will allow staff at the NYC Family Justice Center in Queens to proactively identify clients who have experienced multiple victimizations in their lifetime and enhance a service provider’s ability to link these clients to appropriate services.

“For domestic violence victims, physical or emotional abuse is often just one of many traumas. To help survivors rebuild their lives, we must recognize the many ways they have suffered so that our remedies do not compound or complicate their struggle,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and co-Chair of the City’s new domestic violence taskforce. “New York City has taken a comprehensive approach to supporting survivors with the family justice centers. There is easier and safer access to a range of resources, all under one roof, and staff is able to work across City agencies to protect victims' jobs, homes, and hold abusers accountable. Thanks to the U.S. Justice Department, we are expanding the already comprehensive approach of the Family Justice Center in Queens to give survivors even more support.”

“New York City stands by survivors of domestic violence,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “Thanks to this Department of Justice grant, we will enhance the capacity of the Queens Family Justice Center to offer truly comprehensive services to survivors affected by multiple traumas. I applaud the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence for seizing this opportunity to better help the thousands of New Yorkers who seek assistance every year.”

The NYC Polyvictimization Collaborative Project will be implemented by staff from OCDV, the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, Safe Horizon, Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention (SAVI) program, Voces Latinas and in collaboration with Sanctuary for Families (SFF). The Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) will assist in securing a research entity to conduct a process evaluation during the grant period.

The Project will convene working groups of a diverse cross-section of service providers and community stakeholders to learn more about the needs of polyvictims and discuss best practices around the design and implementation of the screening tool. Following the development of the pilot version of the screening tool, it will be integrated into the current screening practices at the QFJC and will be utilized by City-contracted screening, case management and children’s services staff, as well as by other on-site partners. If a client is identified as a polyvictim, providers will work with the client to consider what additional supportive services they might need.

OCDV operates five Family Justice Centers throughout NYC, which provide free and confidential services to victims of intimate partner violence, elder abuse and sex trafficking regardless of their language capacity, immigration status, income, gender identity or sexual orientation. The supportive FJC environment helps victims navigate complex systems and feel empowered to take important steps to ensure their future safety. The FJCs co-locate community organizations and City agencies to provide comprehensive case management, risk assessment and safety planning, public benefits assistance, civil legal assistance, counseling for adults and children, economic empowerment and other supportive services, including job training classes, computer skills workshops, literacy programming and language courses. Each FJC is also co-located with the local District Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Bureau and has NYPD Domestic Violence Prevention Officers on-site to provide assistance with filing police reports and obtaining report documentation and information about the criminal justice process and related criminal prosecutions. At the FJCs, on-site staff speaks more than 30 languages, and interpretation services are available in over 150 languages.

The grant funding is part of a demonstration project with 6 jurisdictions around the country aimed at creating a model polyvictimization screening tool that can be implemented in Family Justice Center settings nationally. Polyvictimization specifically refers to an individual who has experienced different types of victimization within their lifetime, as opposed to repeated instances of the same type victimization. Additionally, polyvictims often experience not only multiple forms of victimization, but also the most severe forms. Current research findings regarding polyvictims highlight the importance of early screening and intervention to prevent the development of severe health outcomes and future revictimization. This pilot Project will enable service providers at the QFJC to screen survivors of intimate partner violence for all forms of victimizations to ensure that they are connected with appropriate and comprehensive services to meet all of their needs. 

“The Mayor’s Fund is proud to partner with the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence to establish best practices to address the complicated issue of polyvictimization, and to tackle ongoing cycles of abuse. This landmark grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will provide new resources to tackle this issue – one of the most pressing in our city,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

“Thanks to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, we have received a groundbreaking Department of Justice grant to put our City at the forefront of the issue of polyvictimization. The development of a polyvictimization screening tool will allow us and our dedicated service-provider partners at the Queens Family Justice Center to enhance our ability to provide the best and most appropriate services to individuals who have experienced multiple forms of trauma in their lifetimes. We are grateful to the Department of Justice for funding this initiative, and helping New York City to develop innovative approaches to serving survivors of domestic violence,” said Cecile Noel, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said, “Queens has the highest domestic violence conviction rate and the lowest dismissal rate in the City of New York, thanks to the dedication of organizations and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. We have the most diverse support services for survivors in the city – including the Queens Family Justice Center – and have been committed to holding abusers accountable to the fullest extent of the law. I commend the Mayor for launching the polyvictimization screenings first here in Queens at our Family Justice Center, which will significantly augment their important work.”

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio and the tireless work of the advocates in the anti-domestic violence community who along with this pilot program, continue to use new and innovative ways to help victims of domestic violence receive the most comprehensive services available,” said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the Social Services Committee.

"It is great to see New York City at the forefront of the issue of polyvictimization," said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, a member of the Domestic Violence Advisory Council for New York State. "It is refreshing to see that the City of New York will strategically use funds awarded by the U. S. Department of Justice to fund a pilot program that will address domestic violence issues in a more holistic manner. Domestic violence intersects with all areas of a person's life including their children, jobs, social services, and their ability to continue their education. This is especially good news on the heels of last week's announcement of the Domestic Violence Task Force."

“Domestic violence is a horrible tragedy that plagues our communities both here in New York City and across the nation. It comes in many forms and has far-reaching effects; from the deeply personal to the toll it takes on our community as a whole. It simply cannot and should not be an issue that legislators and community leaders remain silent on. I applaud the Department of Justice's decision to support New York City's efforts to combat domestic violence through this grant initiative. As a legislator and a citizen, I am committed to doing everything I can to reduce its incidence and offer support to those who have been affected,” said Assembly Member Walter Mosley.

“With 279,051 domestic incident reports citywide in 2015 – 75,299 of them from the Bronx –every step the city continues to take in this fight against domestic violence is a welcome one. As a longtime advocate for funding and programs to fight this scourge, I pledge to help continue the fight, both in my borough and city, as well as in the legislative halls of Albany,” said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda.

“It is heartening that Queens is going to be one of the six sites nationwide for this project. The project will build on the good work of the Queens Family Justice Center by addressing the multiple types of  traumas that domestic violence survivors have experienced, often leading up to abuse by an intimate partner. This is going to help us stop cycles of abuse and bring real healing and help to people in desperate need. I commend the U.S. Department of Justice and the Mayor’s Office for their forward thinking in developing services to address polyvictimization,” said Assembly Member Aravella Simotas.

“From the Family Justice centers to IDNYC, the City of New York has championed the fight against intimate partner and domestic violence to connect survivors with the necessary resources to rebuild their lives. The NYC Polyvictimization Collaborative Project will enable our City's service providers to take a multi-dimensional and individualized approach to how we support survivors of violence on their road to mental, emotional, and physical recovery,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus.

"This new project is a life line for survivors of intimate partner violence living in our city," said Council Member Daniel Dromm. "By offering holistic support to people who have repeatedly experienced this trauma, we help put an end to the cycle of abuse. I am heartened by this development and will continue to work alongside my colleagues in government to better serve this vulnerable population."

“I want to thank Mayor de Blasio on his tireless efforts of providing assistance to domestic violence victims across the city. The grant provided by the U.S. Department of Justice will create another opportunity where City officials can effectively and more accurately support New Yorkers in crisis to have a better quality of life," said Council Member Donovan Richards. "With the Rockaways having one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Queens, there is a need to identify polyvictims and ensure that City providers are properly equipped to provide them with services.”

“The results of trauma can manifest immediately after an incident of crime or abuse, and may continue for years after. Our job as service providers is to identify when an individual, or family, may have experienced something terrible and help them obtain the support they need and deserve to address their trauma. Together with our partners in the NYC Family Justice Center in Queens we look forward to creating and implementing a polyvictimization screening tool that can truly make a difference in the lives of thousands of individuals who may have experienced multiple victimizations. We applaud the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence for spearheading this project and are grateful to the U.S. Department of Justice for funding it,” said Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon.

Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families, said, “Sanctuary is proud to partner with the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence on the design, development, and implementation of a polvyictimization screening tool with our children’s clinical staff at the Queens Family Justice Center. Through more than three decades of experience providing holistic services to many thousands of domestic violence victims and their children, we have come to recognize and address a range of related forms of gender-based violence – including sex trafficking, sexual assault, and female genital mutilation. So many in our community have experienced multiple forms of abuse in their lives, and urgently need rapid, informed, and comprehensive interventions. A high-quality screening tool will be a vital and highly replicable resource to be used in New York City and nationwide.”

“The NYCAASA is thrilled to partner with community agencies and the FJC to improve the capacity to provide trauma-informed, culturally competent, comprehensive and compassionate care for survivors and co-survivors of Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence. As service providers and system advocates, we have long recognized that our clients have experience with multiple traumas which impact their functioning, safety, and the services they receive,” said Josie Torielli, LCSW, Assistant Director of Intervention Programs at NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault.

"Understanding and addressing polyvictimization requires the multi-pronged, forward thinking approach that the City is taking through this project. The Mount Sinai SAVI Program is excited to be providing clinical supports to survivors as part of the team being brought together through this endeavor," said Lynn M. Frederick Hawley, Executive Director of the Mount Sinai SAVI Program.

“Voces Latinas has been serving immigrant Latino survivors of violence for over 13 years. As a culturally specific center in Queens with staff and peers that identify with the community, we are proud to be partnering with the Queens Family Justice Center and community based organizations addressing polyvictimization. This partnership will not only help inform the field about culturally competent best practices but will also offer concrete holistic services to survivors experiencing a multitude of immediate needs for their day to day survival. Fear and intimidation often keeps our immigrant community from seeking help. Partnerships such as these offers hope and builds trust so that survivors can begin healing,” said Nathaly Rubio-Torio, LMSW, Executive Director of Voces Latinas.

OCDV has partnered with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting innovative programs throughout NYC’s five boroughs, to secure support for the FJCs. Private funding of the Family Justice Centers has helped provide critical evidence of its effectiveness, leveraging the current public investment which included the addition of NYC’s fifth Family Justice Center in Staten Island in 2016. Funding for the Children’s Room and the Training Room at the Staten Island FJC were provided by the Verizon Foundation and the Staten Island Foundation, respectively. Additional current supporters of the FJCs include The Robin Hood Foundation and The Brooke Jackman Foundation. For more information, go to and follow the Fund on Twitter @NYCMayorsFund.

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