by Elizabeth Santiago, Center for Safety & Change
Center for Safety & Change is working to raise awareness about sexual assault, hosting several events throughout the month of April. The non-profit is Rockland County’s only agency dedicated to providing services to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other crimes.
- Thurs April 6: Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Survivor’s Story. This event is free and open to the public but online registration is required. Refreshments will be served. 6:30-8:30p, Ellipse Room at Rockland Community College, Suffern, NY.
- Mon-Wed, April 24-26: Dine Out For Change. Nyack’s Olde Village Inne will donate 10% of food orders and 100% of select drinks and cocktails to Center for Safety & Change. OVI is located at 97 Main St in Nyack.
- Wed April 26: Denim Day. Wear jeans to show your support for victims and survivors of sexual assault and speak out against victim blaming and attitudes that normalize violence.
Anti-violence advocates across the county have long honored victims and survivors during this month. The United States first observed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month nationally beginning in April 2001. Locally, Rockland County Executive Ed Day has declared April 2017 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Rockland County.
Center for Safety & Change works year-round to educate the community about sexual violence and provide free and confidential services to victims and survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Services including a 24-hour hotline, Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) exams, supportive counseling, and advocacy and accompaniment are provided at no cost to victims and survivors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Center for Safety & Change staff and volunteers meet victims and survivors at both Nyack Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital, at police stations throughout the county, and at the agency’s main office in New City and satellite offices in Haverstraw, Nyack, Spring Valley and Suffern. The center also has offices on campus at Dominican College, Rockland Community College, and St. Thomas Aquinas College.
For more than a decade the Center for Safety & Change’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program has set the standard for sexual assault services in Rockland County. In 2016, 57 victims and survivors were served by the SAFE program, including eight victims under the age of 18. The SAFE Program provides specially trained nurses who offer prompt, compassionate, non-judgmental care and forensic examination to people who report sexual assault at the hospital.
Not only do SAFE examiners provide necessary medical services to survivors, document injuries, and collect evidence, but, in cooperation with Center for Safety & Change Advocates and Rape Crisis Counselors, they provide emotional support in a time of crisis.
Elizabeth Santiago is the Executive Director of the Center for Safety & Change.
The center operates a 24 hour hotline to answer questions, provide information and referrals and arrange for advocacy and counseling. The Telephone Crisis Hotline number is 845-634-3344. All calls are kept confidential.