Dear Friends, We hope this finds you well and enjoying the outdoors as we continue to practice social distancing.
This spring was especially busy for the staff at VIBS. After transitioning to virtual services in mid-March, we found ourselves working to meet the needs of individuals impacted by the Coronavirus, and the resulting increase in violence and abuse as people sheltered in place. According to a report by ABC News, calls to domestic violence hotlines in New York State were up 18% in March when New York's "PAUSE" order took effect, and up 30% in April. At VIBS, our counselors, advocates, attorneys and educators found ways to support clients from a distance, without any gaps in services. In April we participated in Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), raising awareness about sexual violence and assault, as well as participating in Take Back the Night with Suffolk Community College, an international event with the mission of ending sexual, relationship, and domestic violence in all forms.
This month we celebrate and honor LGBT Pride month, Elder Abuse Awareness Day and PTSD Awareness month —highlighting our services, providing valuable resources for prevention and education and sharing clients' experiences that have benefited from our services — like Lucy who shared her story with the community during an online webinar ion June 10. Lucy was a former VIBS client, who later became a volunteer and donor. Many clients that have become survivors have now taken the opportunity to support VIBS — donating their time, volunteering and helping others in the community and giving to assure others can receive the services they did. In addition, we celebrate freedom on Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States on June 19.
We are currently exploring scheduling our annual events — Walk the Walk, Healing Hearts Art Show, and the annual Author’s Luncheon virtually. No decisions have been made yet. We invite you to save the dates for these events and more information will follow.
Author’s Luncheon Featuring Rachel Lloyd of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services and honoring BACA LI NY Chapter Wednesday, September 30
Walk the Walk Our annual walk to end domestic violence Saturday, October 24
Healing Hearts Art Show Thursday, November 5
The first phase of reopening the VIBS’ office begins today, June 15. We have implemented new safety procedures, made facility modifications, purchased PPE and assured all are wearing masks and practice social distancing. At this time, we are still providing services to clients remotely, but plan to provide some in-person services in the next few weeks.
Be safe and be well!
P.S. I invite you to attend a community webinar. A list of ourupcoming webinarscan be found on our website.
LGBT Pride Month
Pride is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as a social group.
The term "safe space" refers to places created for individuals to come together to communicate regarding their experiences with marginalization. VIBS is a safe space and all are welcome.
Voices of VIBS — Stories from Survivors As many of our clients continue to struggle during these uncertain times, VIBS reflects on moments of healing and hope with Voices of VIBS, a webinar series focused on telling stories of survivors and honoring their journeys.
Lucy, longtime VIBS volunteer and survivor of domestic violence, recently joined us via webinar on June 10 to share some of her experiences. While raising a young child and trying to manage a career, Lucy addressed how things changed in her marriage, how she knew she needed help and how she sought justice for herself and her daughter — both of whom continue to manage their trauma to this day. Lucy also shared how she became an advocate and how she continues to stay connected to VIBS.
VIBS is grateful to Lucy and all other survivors who have the courage to magnify their voices so that others can benefit from their experiences. We hope to bring you more survivor stories so that we can continue to provide healing and positivity to VIBS clients and our community. Thank you, Lucy, for sharing your story with us. Be sure to check the website/social media for the next Voices of VIBS webinar.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) Commemorated on June 15 every year, WEAAD is an opportunity to take action to protect older people by raising awareness about elder abuse, why it occurs and what we can do to stop it.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, an estimated 1 in 13 older adults in the state of New York had been victims of at least one form of elder abuse. This study found that major financial exploitation was self-reported at a rate of 41 per 1,000 surveyed, which was higher than self-reported rates of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect. Elders who experienced abuse, even modest abuse, had a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who had not been abused.
Thank you to The Kevin Williams Foundation for their generous donation of Stop and Shop gift cards. VIBS advocates worked to coordinate and distribute them to our clients.
In addition, the Heritage Trust in Mount Sinai offered part of the proceeds from their food drive at Heritage Park to VIBS to share with clients in need. There was a variety of food items, pet food, baby food, diapers, toiletries and toilet paper. A total of 19 families that benefited from these items. Donations such as these help our families feel supported and cared for by the community, and we are very thankful.
Special Thanks to the Long Island Community Foundation
This spring VIBS was the recipient of a generous gift from the Long Island Community Foundation (LICF) to assist with COVID-19 relief. Since no one could anticipate a pandemic, our budget does not include additional funds needed to provide services to our clients during this time. We are so thankful to LICF whose funds supported a tele-health platform that is HIPAA compliant and secure, ensuring confidentiality during client counseling and advocacy sessions. In addition, the funds supported an online learning platform to offer free educational webinars to college and high school students and the community on a variety of topics — including stalking, harassment, abuse, human trafficking, domestic and sexual violence and trauma.
VIBS LOVES OUR VOLUNTEERS!
Volunteers are a critical part of fulfilling the VIBS mission — to create futures free of violence. We thank our volunteers for their time, their commitment and their service to advocate for survivors of Suffolk County. If you would like to learn more about volunteering at VIBS, visit vibs.org/opportunities-to-get-involved/.
Click below to view a special thank you message to all VIBS volunteers.
Pictured below is VIBS childcare worker, Steve and therapy dog, Aspen.
Spring is a time of growth and time of new hope. With that in mind VIBS staff wanted to bring joy and hope to the children that we serve. As a creative way to do so, our much loved duo Steve (child care worker) and our therapy dog Aspen visited clients at home — spreading joy by dropping off packages with art supplies and books to keep children motivated and inspired while they are unable to visit VIBS at this time.
The children showed shear excitement when receiving a socially distant visit from Steve, whose kind words and role model behavior provided a sense of joy and safety, and Aspen, who provided a calming presence.
Our adult sexual assault group for women — who have been meeting regularly since 2017 — wrote a poem entitled, Survivors. Writing the poem empowered the group to transform from victim to survivor, reshaping negative thoughts and self-speech.
"I am honored have the opportunity to witness the growth and perseverance" said their group leader, Katelyn, Counselor, ATR-BC, LCAT.
I have survived, Being torn down.
I am, Broken but being repaired.
A survivor is, Someone with strength, to live. A fighter, to help others. A champion, to create. Someone with a purpose, to love.
My purpose is courageous. I am winning. I will survive.
Love, a Survivor
National PTSD Awareness Month
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. National PTSD Awareness Day is celebrated annually on June 27, and is aimed at raising awareness.
Just How Prevalent Is PTSD in the Military? Everyday Health estimates that between Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, PTSD affects between 11 and 20 percent of veterans. For veterans that served in the Vietnam War, about 15 percent suffer from PTSD.
The VIBS Veterans Counseling Program offers individual and group counseling services specifically designed for veterans and their families. Our counselors are equipped to assist veterans with symptoms related to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of their exposure to violence or other traumatic experiences while serving in the armed forces. VIBS provides services for victims of MST (Military Sexual Trauma) and serves any veteran who has suffered abuse, intimate partner violence or sexual violence inside or outside of the military — regardless of discharge status. DD-214 is NOT necessary to receive services.
Imagine Awards Fan Favorite
VIBS is one of 20 finalists for the Social Impact Award. Fan Favorite Imagine Award voting is now open and you can support your favorite finalist by voting each day, multiple times on Facebook! Voting ends midnight, June 19. The winners will be announced LIVE at the VIRTUAL event on July 8 and the winner will be awarded $3,000 towards their organization. VOTE VIBS!
WHY I GIVE...
My mother was a victim and was abused by her father and a few of the men in her life. She taught me from an early age, I think as a way of healing, to stand by those who are having trouble standing for themselves. As her son, the most important part of this lesson came from observing her through my 39 years. She was first the victim, then the strong loner raising her child. Now, having learned to stand on her own, she stands for others. I support VIBS so that others may do the same.