Supporting Survivors

Greater New Haven advocates respond to the amplified dangers of domestic violence and sexual assault during COVID-19.

State Rep. Robyn Porter at the Mar. 29, 2021 rally to end domestic violence. Emily Hayes photo.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has raised the level of danger for potential victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, nonprofit services providers are working on the frontlines with survivors while pushing for transformative change through advocacy and education.

BH Care's Hope Center for Family Justice, which has seen an increased level of complexity and violence associated with its domestic violence cases since early in the pandemic, organized a rally and call to action in March to bring statewide attention to the larger crisis.

BH Care, a regional behavioral health provider that sees walk-ins at the Hope Center and runs the Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence, receives general operating support funding from both The Community Foundation and the Valley Community Foundation. BH Care also runs a domestic violence hotline, supports survivors in court and runs safe houses at confidential locations.

Rape Crisis Center of Milford joining in #PURPLETHURSDAY day of action on Oct. 22, 2020, raising awareness about domestic violence.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, counselors with the Rape Crisis Center of Milford (RCCM) are on call, offering trauma-informed support to victims of sexual assaults.

Working through a temporary suspension of in-person meetings during 2020, RCCM victim services were never curtailed at any point. Overall, RCCM provided crisis intervention and services to 541 victims of sexual assault and their families in the region.

The work is funded in part by a three-year, $45,000 general operating support grant from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and the Valley Community Foundation, with contributions from the Wilder Family Fund and the Raymond F. Mackowski Fund at those two institutions.

As soon as a victim goes to the police or a hospital, an advocate from RCCM arrives to help the victim along every step of the journey. The advocate helps victims understand their legal options, sits alongside them through medical exams and makes referrals to short-term and long-term counseling and mental health support. The service area includes Ansonia, Derby, Milford, Orange, Seymour, Shelton and West Haven.

Services and counseling are provided to all RCCM clients, regardless of whether they are reporting to the police or a hospital or how long ago in the past the abuse occurred. The goal is to empower victims to articulate a safety plan, feel empowered to navigate through the system and empower victims to regain control of their lives.

All services are offered in both English and Spanish and provided at zero cost.

RCCM welcomed 17 new volunteers in its class of 2020.

Beyond its counseling and advocacy, RCCM trains and certifies new volunteers and provides community and school education programs. During 2020, it provided education to 5,964 students, teachers, parents, and administrators through 261 school presentations.

Did you know?

Approximately 1 in 6 women (16.4%) and 1 in 14 men (7%) have experienced contact sexual violence* by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence