By Dave Carlin
NEW YORK — New York City Family Justice Centers are walk-in centers for victims of domestic violence, elder abuse, and sex trafficking.
We were given an exclusive tour of the one for Queens.
“This is the Family Justice Center,” said Susan Jacob, executive director of the Queens Family Justice Center. “We have you here because we think it is so important to spread the word and get the message out there to all of the communities that there is help available, they are not alone.”
“Things were good at first, but after we got married, I started seeing a different side of him,” one survivor said. “My kids were getting older, and they were noticing… mommy’s getting hit by daddy.”
“After he got arrested, the DA who is in charge of my case… connected me over with the Family Justice Center,” the survivor added.
The centers give a survivor one-stop access to counseling, housing permanent and temporary, and food, legal aid, and more.
“Food pantry. We also have essential items,” Susan said.
“Anything I needed, I knew I could call on them for,” a survivor said.
“Everything they need is here,” said Lannie Smith, housing coordinator of New Destiny Housing Corporation. “So to get them to the stage where they can actually be comfortable to say ‘I got this.'”
“There were three different agencies that came together: The Family Justice Center, New Destiny Hope and Jahajee Sisters. And together we were able to support the client to feel safe, enter, feel stable,” said Simone Jhingoor, co-director of Jahajee Sisters.
“It’s difficult, yes, but it really is worth it,” one survivor said. “Now we wake up and we’re safe.
Twenty-three partner agencies are joined by counselors, including attorney Richard Celestin, who’s doing this for his late sister Cathy.
“My younger sister was murdered in 2020,” he said. “So he is in prison…. Coming in here to the Queens Family Justice Center, my goal is to ultimately continue to target young people, to share my sister’s story as an attorney, having an understanding of what the laws and what are some of the protections that are out there.”
“We have a Family Justice Center in every borough,” Commissioner Cecile Noel of the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. “It is a way of bringing providers together keeping the survivor at the center to be able to deliver services safety and support for the long-term.”
You can walk in, or make that first phone call, to begin a journey to safety and hope.