Council’s campaign #BeingSafeCANTWait will provide support and resources to domestic violence survivors and runs from May 1st-May 5th

NEW YORK— Speaker Corey Johnson, Women & Gender Equity Committee Chair Helen Rosenthal and Public Safety Committee Chair Donovan Richards announced the launch of the New York City Council’s #BeingSafeCANTWait social media campaign to spread awareness of domestic violence amid COVID-19 and amplifies the message that help is available. During these difficult and uncertain times, domestic violence survivors may feel isolated without anywhere to turn and sharing resources to those who find themselves in danger is essential. 

While New Yorkers are being instructed to stay home in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, we must make every attempt to protect and provide services to those who may be living with an abuser. The Council understands the stress survivors are experiencing due to this pandemic and starting today, May 1, will launch #BeingSafeCANTWait to reach survivors of domestic violence, as well as their loved ones.  

The Council knows that survivors still need support. As a first step, over the next few days, #BeingSafeCANTWait will share resources from domestic violence providers to help survivors as well as those who know them.  It is being introduced today to coincide with the Council’s Women & Gender Equity and Public Safety’s oversight hearing on the impact of COVID-19 on domestic violence in New York City.  

“As we ask New York City residents to stay home and socially distance, that may not be a safe option for survivors of domestic violence. The Council knows these individuals need our support more than ever, and over the next few days, we’ll share resources that can help. With the #BeingSafeCANTWait social media campaign, we are letting domestic violence survivors and their loved ones know we are here for them. We will never leave them behind, especially during a pandemic, and the Council will establish innovative ways to support survivors,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. 

“One of the most sinister aspects of the COVID-19 crisis is how it has put the most vulnerable people in our society at even greater risk. This especially applies to survivors of domestic violence, many of whom are trapped with their abusers 24/7. The first thing we can do to support our survivors is to spread the word that help is available NOW. DV victims and survivors can access shelters and other services regardless of the pandemic, or their spoken language, immigration status, or economic status. Whether you are a trans woman of color, a person who is undocumented, or a senior — you do not have to live with DV. I thank the Council for their tremendous support on this issue and look forward to tomorrow’s hearing on domestic violence across New York City,”said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Council’s Women & Gender Equity Committee.

“Even as we practice social distancing, you are never alone. With#BeingSafeCANTWait, New York City is making it clear that the safety of domestic violence survivors is our priority. Survivors need us now more than ever in these unprecedented times and we are here to continue to support anyone who feels they are in danger with safety networks, resources, and plans,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee.

“I want to commend the City Council, advocates and all of the organizations that are taking action to ensure resources are available to New Yorkers experiencing domestic and intimate partner violence during the current pandemic. In an effort to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 and flatten the curve, many New Yorkers are self- quarantining at home. Social distancing can force victims to remain in violent spaces with their abuser and fear retaliation or death if they contact the authorities. We need to remind victims and survivors that they are not alone, that they have a voice, and that we will take swift action to ensure their safety. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in the City Council and in the Women’s Caucus, in participating in this social media campaign,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Co-Chair of the Council’s Women’s Caucus.

“Social distancing mandates and self-quarantines are helping flatten the curve in NYC, but for some, staying home can be just as unsafe. Instances of domestic violence have risen worldwide as people stay inside, confined with the very people causing them harm, while shutdowns force advocacy and intervention networks to work virtually. Despite the accessibility of support services online, it is important to remember that survivors of domestic violence deal with increased control and surveillance at the hands of their abusers. We must remain extremely vigilant and motivated to think of creative ways such as the#BeingSafeCANTWait social media campaign to show survivors that we see them and we stand with them, no matter what. Thank you to Speaker Johnson, Chairs Rosenthal and Richards, as well as my Council colleagues for holding these conversations in order to find solutions to empower and protect survivors throughout New York City,” said Council Member Farah N. Louis, Co-Chair of the Council’s Women’s Caucus. 

“Safe Horizon, the nation’s largest non-profit victim services organization, applauds New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and his colleagues for recognizing the particular danger that stay-at-home orders can pose to victims of domestic violence, and for creating a social media campaign to let all New Yorkers know that paths to safety are still available.  While many program locations across the city are physically closed, advocates, counselors and attorneys are still reaching out to vulnerable New Yorkers to help them petition for orders of protection, receive trauma-informed mental health counseling, and connect them with shelter and safety planning.  Advocates at Safe Horizon’s 24-hour hotline 800-621-HOPE are standing by, ready to respond to anyone in distress. We thank Speaker Johnson again for his leadership on this issue in this fraught time for victims of violence and abuse,” said Michael Polenberg, Vice President of Government Affairs at Safe Horizon. 

“Under COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, domestic violence victims are more isolated than ever – often in life-threatening situations, quarantined with dangerous abusers. They may not know where to turn for help or feel that their situations are not worthy emergencies during a public health crisis. Sanctuary for Families is committed to finding and supporting new ways to reach vulnerable New Yorkers and social media is one of the most effective tools we have to raise awareness about the domestic violence services still available to help them. We applaud the New York City Council for working to bring safety and security to New Yorkers who are not able to find those things at home,” said Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families.