Crime Victim Assistance Program: A catalyst for change
Crystal White, who works with survivors of domestic violence as an advocate with the Crime Victim Assistance Program, knows that home is not a safe place for everyone. As many New Yorkers stayed home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Ms. White remained committed to finding safety for New Yorkers experiencing domestic violence.
At the height of the pandemic, one of Ms. White’s clients needed to move out of her apartment quickly because of violence—a challenge in the best of times, made harder because most businesses were operating remotely. But Ms. White wasn’t deterred. She helped purchase an air mattress for her client, contacted moving companies, and helped secure new housing through the New York City Housing Authority.
Ms. White’s work didn’t end there. When her client began experiencing traumatic flashbacks during the move, Crystal got on the phone with the movers and helped them de-escalate the situation. Eventually, the client was calm enough to help the movers as they worked.
Tina Logan, Manager at Safe Horizon, the non-profit that implements the Crime Victim Assistance Program, says that Ms. White’s support for her clients and her tireless work in moving requests up the chain of command make her a standout advocate. At the Housing Police Service Area where she works, she has a widely known reputation for diligence. As a result, police officers reach out to her without hesitation and refer survivors to her. “She doesn’t just do the minimum,” said Tina Logan. “She herself is part of the process. Where another person might get frustrated because they can’t get through to a service, Crystal will keep trying until she reaches someone. She is a catalyst for change.”
From Ms. White:
“I truly enjoy what I do which is helping people. There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
AT A GLANCE: Crime Victim Assistance Program
• Victim advocates in 77 precincts, 9 Police Service Areas
• Advocates offer:
o Crisis and supportive counseling
o Safety planning
o Advocacy to schools, employers, creditors, and
landlords for accommodations
o Assistance applying for victim compensation o Referrals to individual or group therapy o Referrals to legal and social services
• Over 165,000 people have received support or services
• 93% of victims report feeling safer physically and/or emotionally after receiving Crime Victim Assistance
• 75% of victims served by the Crime Victim Assistance Program are people of color