The names of the domestic violence survivors in this story have been changed to protect their identities.
Several years ago, after learning of the abuse his daughter had suffered from her half-brother, Chris had to make a difficult decision and urged his teenage daughter to call the police. The two packed up what they could and turned to the Queens Family Justice Center for help at a time when they “didn’t really know what to do”.
They were able to find housing with the help of New Destiny Housing and connect with mental health resources and financial planning services to ease the transition from trauma to regaining their independence.
“We didn’t really know what to do and they were able to make arrangements,” Chris told the Eagle. ” I did not know [the Family Justice Center] existed but it was reassuring â I was 40 years old, I’ve never experienced that. They made me feel comfortableâ¦and made sure she was okay, which was also my priority.
“Asking for help is hard on its own but…there are men who are going through abuse and suffering and they’re just trying to keep their families together but…they’re not stuck there are better alternatives,” he added, emphasizing the importance of destigmatizing domestic violence that affects men.
Nestled next to Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens, the center is stocked with pantry items and safe spaces for victims of domestic violence to wait during court proceedings or for placement in housing, in addition to support services.
There, staff, service providers and community agencies help people like Chris and his daughter get back on their feet and get the resources they need without compromising their dignity or agency. Specialists are available to help with safety planning, applying for public benefits, mental health services, and legal aid for protection orders, divorces, and immigration proceedings.
Wrap-around services keep even the youngest affected individuals in mind, and Sanctuary for Families provides a daycare-like space with games, toys and books for children while their caregivers meet with providers.
Each case presents different challenges and needs, QFJC management told Eagle. Borough-wide CBOs, each with their own networks and resources, are centrally located.
Jessica, another client, worked with Shanikka White, a senior case manager with the Women’s Prison Association, in finding housing and getting new copies of documents like her birth certificate and ID. .
She discovered she had received her Section 8 voucher just before she sat down to speak with the Eagle – the excitement and relief of Jessica and the members of her center support system who were in the room were palpable. She may be leaving behind her beloved neighborhood in Queens, but said she was thrilled to embrace a fresh start and a space of her own.
“I’m so grateful to the organizations,” Jessica said, “I’m mute. A lot of people are talking and wanting a paycheck, but I really feel the care and concern and the love from the people I’m with. works and it’s unusual. it’s wonderful.”
âI was so lost, used and abused; I was helpless but coming here [there was help]she added, letting other survivors know they are not alone. âI feel like I’m on top of the world. There is hope [now.] I’m alive and I feel good.
The Mayor’s Office to End Domestic Gender-Based Violence, Susan Jacob, executive director of the QFJC, has spent more than a decade with the center, where Safe Horizon, the Korean American Family Service Center and the Arab-American Family Support Center are among the organizations that strive to overcome language barriers. for some of the 74.8% of QFJC clients born outside the country.