Avon Foundation for Women Helps Child Victims of Domestic Violence Through Safe Horizon's Counseling Center

Posted on: Friday, August 10, 2012

Keywords: Avon Foundation for Women, Avon Foundation, Safe Horizon, Counseling Center, Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention, Domestic Violence, Shelters

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In July the Avon Foundation for Women awarded Safe Horizon’s Counseling Center $250,000 in support of groundbreaking trauma treatment for children staying in our domestic violence shelters. The Avon Foundation’s grant will help our Counseling Center develop a pilot program that targets reducing trauma in children who have witnessed domestic violence. The Counseling Center will adapt proven child-trauma interventions, such as the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention model developed by Yale and Safe Horizon, that can be replicated in domestic violence shelters across the country.
This pilot program stems from the need to reduce the extremely high levels of traumatic stress suffered by victims of domestic violence and abuse. Making evidence-based child trauma interventions available onsite in the shelters where these families reside is expected to significantly improve outcomes for abused women as well as their children.

Ariel Zwang, Chief Executive Officer of Safe Horizon, said “Early traumatic stress intervention alleviates the suffering of children, empowers abused women to be the source of soothing for their children, restores parent-child bonds while keeping child development on course, and prevents life-long negative consequences. The emotional and social benefits of treatment are numerous and we are very grateful to the Avon Foundation for their strong commitment to fighting domestic violence, an epidemic that will affect one in four women in their lifetime.”

This 2012 grant is the latest of four grants totaling $395,000 that the Avon Foundation has awarded Safe Horizon for its domestic violence work. This grant is part of the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program, which launched in 2004 to help end the cycle of domestic violence. The Avon Foundation for Women has provided more than $28 million for domestic and gender violence programs in the United States, including support for awareness, education, direct service and prevention.

“The Avon Foundation for Women is committed to helping end the cycle of domestic violence and is proud to support Safe Horizon in its work to help child victims in New York City,” said Carol Kurzig, president of the Avon Foundation for Women. “It is through the combination of local, national and international efforts that we can work to eradicate domestic violence and ensure safety for all children and their families.”

Safe Horizon implemented a similar evidence-based intervention – the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) – at four of their Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) since 2008. CFTSI is a four-to-six session, family strengthening, evidence-based early intervention for children seven to 18 years old who have either recently experienced or recently disclosed a traumatic event. The intervention, which was developed by clinicians at the Yale Childhood Violent Trauma Center (CVTC), a program of the Yale Child Study Center, responded to Safe Horizon’s need to implement standardized assessment measures and a more effective mental health response to treat children who have experienced trauma.

After a four-year pilot program, the results of this pioneer treatment were released as part of a forum on Child Abuse organized by Safe Horizon and the Yale Childhood Violent Trauma Center, revealing overwhelmingly positive outcomes for children and families who had received CFTSI in the CAC setting. Results show a 54% decrease in children’s trauma symptoms at the end of the intervention, alongside an increase in symptom recognition and communication between children and caregivers. Caregivers reported almost universally that they learned skills to help their child feel better and decrease the frequency of trauma reactions exhibited by their child. 

Starting in the fall of 2012, and over the course of the next two years, Safe Horizon will assess the need for acute, chronic, and complex child trauma interventions for children at all developmental levels and will adapt evidence-based treatments for onsite shelter implementation based on the identified need, providing vital support to suffering caregivers, relieving the traumatic stress of children, promoting healthy child development, repairing the maternal-child bond, and improving outcomes for all.

We’re grateful to the Avon Foundation for Women for their generosity and thank them for their tremendous support in helping children and families to overcome crisis and to regain their lives after violence.

Learn more about Safe Horizon’s Counseling Center.

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Safe Horizon's mission is to provide support, prevent violence and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities.

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