A newspaper clipping about a horrific story of domestic violence is what led Steve Parrish into a decades-long journey of helping abuse victims.
“It was about a woman who was an advocate for victims of domestic violence and she ended her relationship. And her abuser stalked her, threatened her and ultimately murdered her,” Parrish recalled.
That was nearly 30 years ago.
Parrish was working for a consumer products company at the time. He and his boss were looking to partner with a charity and that’s when they heard about Safe Horizon, an organization with a mission that turned out to be close to both of their hearts.
“He told me that he had grown up in a home that was marred by violence. It was a very touching thing for me. I didn’t tell him until many years later that, so did I,” Parrish said.
Safe Horizon staffs the city’s domestic violence hotlines and runs eight shelters across the city.
One is named in Parrish’s honor.
He served on their board as chair since 2008.
And every year for Child Abuse Prevention Month, Parrish doubles each donation.
In April, he matched $40,000.
“No one should have to deal with the aftermath of crime or abuse alone and thanks to Safe Horizon and donors like Steve Parrish, survivors have someone to reach out to,” said Evy, a Safe Horizon staffer.
“Parrish House” served nearly 300 residents last year — half were children.
It is a safe haven for women in need. They’re given job training, housing advice, and counseling.
“I feel comfortable here. I feel happy here. A lot of times people say you cry when you’re sad, no I’m crying because I’m happy. I made a choice and for me, this was the best choice. This was the best choice and I’m glad Safe Horizon was here and Parrish House was here for me and my child,” said one woman.
Parrish says it’s stories like this that inspire him to work even harder for these survivors.
“To see the transformation in people’s lives is just absolutely wonderful to see and that’s what keeps me coming back every day,” Parrish said.
So for doing his part protecting victims of domestic violence, Steve Parrish is our New Yorker of the Week.
Terry Crews brought the crowd to tears when he was honored at Safe Horizon’s Champion Awards by remembering his childhood with his abusive father.
“One of my earliest memories . . . I was like 4 or 5 years old, my father [hit] my mother in the face as hard as he could, and she gets knocked out, and I remember seeing her on the floor and then looking at him, this giant of a man, [and] I thought, ‘My God, he said he loves her’ . . . And all I could think was how I wanted to protect her. And how wrong it was.”
The “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star recalled, “I said, ‘I gotta be strong’ and, ‘I got to get straight so I can protect her.’ And every time he came home, we were scared.”
As a result: “I literally wet the bed until I was 14 years old because I didn’t know what was going to happen . . . We lived a nightmare for years.”
Also at the ceremony, Tamron Hall presented an award to #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, and the news anchor was emotional when talking about what the movement would have meant to her beloved sister, Renate, who was in abusive relationships and was murdered in a case that has gone unsolved.
Sunny Hostin, Dave Navarro, and Henry Schleiff also attended.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Terry Crews and his family spent years unlawfully terrorized by his father.
Crews, 49, opened up about life growing up while being honored at Safe Horizon’s Champion Awards earlier this week. “One of my earliest memories… I was like 4 or 5-years-old, my father [hit] my mother in the face as hard as he could, and she gets knocked out,” he revealed.
“I remember seeing her on the floor and then looking at him, this giant of a man, [and] I thought, ‘My God, he said he loves her,’” he continued. “And all I could think was how I wanted to protect her. And how wrong it was.”
At that moment, a young Crews made a choice: “I said, ‘I gotta be strong’ and, ‘I got to get straight so I can protect her.’ And every time he came home, we were scared.”
“I literally wet the bed until I was 14-years-old because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he revealed. “We lived a nightmare for years.”
One must wonder how Crews’ father would stack up against the beast of an actor these days.
Eyes downcast and arms crossed, Curry slowly shook her head.
“No, there wasn’t,” she said. “It’s been happening everywhere. I felt — I’ve always kind of felt like eventually, it was going to happen here, too.”
Curry may not be alone in that expectation. While the long-term effects of the trauma associated with mass shootings is not well documented, mental health experts say that the shock of such an attack can reverberate through a community and could even instill itself in those who attend seemingly safe schools across the country.
“We’re adapting now to what the new reality is: that no one is immune to violence,” said Vilma Torres, director of Safe Horizon at the Bronx Family Justice Center in New York. “Now we have to think about how do I continue to get up in the morning? How do I enter a school? How do I go to the mall and prepare myself? We’re now having conversations with adolescents and even adults that if I hear a sound where do I go? What do I do? Where do I hide?
It’s possible that shootings like the one that occurred in Santa Fe Friday or in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day also echo in people’s lives who aren’t immediately affected, especially as these events continue to happen, experts told NBC News. Those survivors’ trauma can be felt in the lives of those who reside miles away.
“People can feel helpless and that’s a reaction that many people experience when they go through trauma,” said Dr. Sheila Rauch, an associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine and clinical director of the university’s veterans program. “They feel helpless like there’s nothing they can do.”
That feeling of helplessness is tied to a sense that a school shooting is inevitable. For many, it’s when, not if, the next shooting will occur — and that’s a fear familiar to shooting victims.
Paula Reed, a teacher who survived the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado that killed 13 people, said that sadly it’s something one comes to accept.
“You just give up on the notion of ever feeling safe anywhere,” she said. “At first that feels scary, but then you get used to it. You realize that you never were safe, but you just didn’t know it.”
It’s a sentiment adopted by many of the Parkland students who called themselves the “mass shooting generation” after a gunman killed 17 people at their high school in Florida. As they turned tragedy into the March for Our Lives movement, those students emphasized that they lived in a world of school shooting exercises and a growing list of mass casualty events in the United States caused by gun violence.
The belief that another shooting is just around the corner is a notable change in American culture, however. When 13 people died in the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, the reaction was very different.
“It was like an alien attack — they were completely taken by surprise,” said Dave Cullen, the author of the 2009 book “Columbine” who researched the massacre for more than a decade. “The kids in Parkland and many have grown up with this. They’re brought up in a world of drills and shootings. With Columbine, it was like they discovered there really were monsters under the bed. I mean, how do you go to sleep again? It shook up their whole worldview.”
But Reed said she wasn’t surprised that contemporary American kids might feel resigned to a shooting at their school or in their community. They were brought up in a totally different era.
The sense of safety that I had [before Columbine] doesn’t exist for kids today,” she said. “How can they have it if [these shootings] happens all the time?”
For some in Texas, the memories of the trauma will get stuck in their minds, said Rauch, and that is what develops into post-traumatic stress disorder. That may also prove to be a problem for the survivors of Parkland and shootings throughout the United States.
“For kids that are already struggling this is going to make it harder,” Rauch said. “Those are people who are more likely to feel like they’re helpless because they’re seeing it happening again. That’s confirming a lot of the fears that they have. It’s also possible that some of the kids who were doing okay start backsliding because of this next school shooting.”
In the aftermath, survivors will need the help of mental health professionals to deal with the traumatic fallout that stems from this most recent shooting in Santa Fe. Experts said that many will feel immediately like Reed described, in constant fear for their safety.
Reed advised the students, teachers, and staff of Santa Fe High School and Parkland to realize that “there’s the person you were before and the person you are after.” But she said there is an opportunity to move past the event.
“It takes years to get over,” said Reed, nearly two decades after Columbine. “So if you feel like you are still crazy three years from now, just know it won’t last forever. It lasts for a long time — longer than many people want to give you space for — but it is not forever. For me, it really started to turn around after five years went by.”
“But it’s not forever,” she continued to emphasize. “I swear to you it’s not forever.”
Terry Crews’ career has taken him from the athletic field to Hollywood ― two professional spheres where toxic masculinity has been pervasive.
The “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star’s passion for speaking out against sexism and gender stereotypes, however, predates his professional achievements. As Crews was honored Tuesday by Safe Horizon at their Annual Champion Awards Gala in New York, he recalled his childhood memories of his alcoholic father abusing his mother, and his mother’s perceived inability to escape that cycle.
“I literally wet the bed until I was 14 years old because I didn’t know what was gonna happen,” Crews, who appeared to be holding back tears, said in an emotional speech, above. “We lived a nightmare for years … we were hopeless.”
The athlete, actor, author and activist has been using his platform to give a voice to male sexual assault survivors since he accused Hollywood executive Adam Venit of groping him at a party in 2016.
Coming forward with the claims, Crews said Tuesday, was “probably one of the hardest things ever.”
“One man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation,” he said. He added that he hoped his story would help others realize that “anyone anywhere can be victimized ― and no man, woman or child should ever put up with being treated as less than a human being ever. Ever!”
Crews had high praise for the reckonings already forced by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements against sexual harassment and assault.
“When I look at this movement … this is the Emancipation Proclamation,” he said, referring to President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 order proclaiming freedom for slaves.
Coming forward as an assault or abuse survivor, he continued, is “like flying a plane from LA to New York, and you’ve never flown a plane before.”
“You are literally digging tunnels with spoons, trying to get out, like my mother tried to get out,” he said.
The #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, Goldman Sachs’ co-chairman Paul Parker, and Oliver Wyman managing partner John Romeo also were honored at Tuesday’s event for advocacy work.
Soon after his first term as New York City mayor began in 2014, Bill de Blasio paid a visit to The New York Community Trust. The election was over but he had another campaign in mind.There was this idea to shake up mental health treatment in the city, but before what eventually became the Connections to Care program could get underway, de Blasio would need organizations like NYCT to match $6 million in federal grant money. Expecting that public-private partnerships like these could be beneficial throughout his tenure as mayor, de Blasio’s next campaign was to get city nonprofits behind him for an even bigger initiative – a grant-making nexus of nonprofits, philanthropies, businesses and government agencies overseen by the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) that he would create that same year.
NYCT had already worked with de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray during his tenure as public advocate. When he came to their offices as the newly-inaugurated mayor, NYCT staff were receptive to what he had to say about Connections to Care – and how it might build on the work they were already doing, according to Patricia Jenny, the trust’s vice president for grants.
“From the very beginning (he) was very interested in getting involved in our work,” she said in a telephone interview.
Four years later, OSP has raised more than $417 million for a broad range of initiatives aimed at promoting social and economic equality. It does this by promoting the city as a matchmaker among philanthropies, nonprofits, government agencies and businesses – and helping fledgling programs become adopted citywide. Through its oversight of city-run charities, which are officially independent, OSP allows de Blasio to enact many progressive proposals without having to look towards Albany to raise taxes to pay for them.
There’s the initiative that has provided more than 40,000 pairs of glasses for poor children, literacy programs, veterans services – even more than $1 million for an evaluation of how social media can help report foodborne disease outbreaks. There was also a juvenile justice pilot program that began with 20 young offenders in the Bronx before being adopted citywide by the Administration for Children’s Services and the city Department of Probation, according to the city.
“We’ve seen a noticeable increase in foundations and corporations stepping forward over the last couple of years to support our work,” David Hansell, commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services, said in a statement. “Private-sector support helps us be more creative, innovative and effective as we protect children and support families across New York City.”
And all of these city-fostered initiatives are managed by city-affiliated 501(c)(3) nonprofit charities that are in turn overseen by OSP – such as the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. That fund is chaired by first lady Chirlane McCray, who also leads ThriveNYC, an $850 million mental health initiative that exists outside of OSP. Some programming overlaps between OSP and ThriveNYC, such as the Connections to Care initiative that de Blasio pitched to The New York Community Trust back in 2014. But it’s the work of the nonprofits that transforms government support into nonprofit action.
Other nonprofits under OSP are the Fund for Public Health that Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Mary Bassett leads, the Fund for Public Schools overseen by Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, and the Fund for Public Housing, among others.
Along with having long track records of working with New York City community-based organizations, philanthropies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Ford Foundation and Robin Hood Foundation are significant donors to various funds under the OSP. The office offers the advantage of bringing the full force of city resources to help an effective initiative become more widely adopted across the city, Gabrielle Fialkoff, director of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, said in a May 9 interview.
Fialkoff said the city’s involvement can bring to scale projects that might have fallen by the wayside.
“If you want to bring change. I say work with us because we can bring you the scale that everyone is looking for,” Fialkoff said in response to a question about what evidence there was that her office nurtured services that wouldn’t have otherwise been available.
An April 3 press release from the city touts a litany of programs and services funded through OSP by philanthropies, as well as the state and federal government. These include projects and programs like The Center for Youth Employment, Computer Science for All, NYC Housing Help, NYCitizenship, Building Healthy Communities and other initiatives to promote juvenile justice reforms, NYCHA improvements, criminal justice reforms and workforce development, among others.
For example, the $30 million initiative known as Connections to Care – a part of the ThriveNYC – illustrates how the early outreach of the incoming de Blasio administration played out. That 2014 visit to NYCT led the organization to donate $1.26 million to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, one of four nonprofits overseen by OSP. Some of that money combined with money from Astoria Energy, The Ford Foundation and the Corporation for National & Community Service to fund the initiative.
On the other end of the procurements process were nonprofits putting ideas into action. In the case of Connections to Care, which aimed to enlist non-clinical staff in an effort to better serve people confronting mental health issues, the nonprofit Safe Horizon was among more than a dozen contracted to do much of the work on the ground.
The $30 million in funding for the initiative comes from $10 million in federal grants, $10 million from philanthropies and $10 million from the 14 community-based organizations selected in 2016 to test out the program, according to the city. The money was earmarked to train non-clinical staff at these nonprofits in conducting mental health screenings, administering behavioral treatment, responding to mental illness and helping families cope with related issues.
As of September of last year, across the program, more than 1,000 people received training and treated 8,900 clients, according to the city.
An additional $4 million is now needed for the program after the Trump administration rescinded some grant funding. It also remains to be seen if the initiative will lead to wider adoption – but at least one nonprofit contacted said Connections to Care has made a difference.
The nonprofit Safe Horizon now has more than 180 trained individuals at its domestic violence shelters around the clock thanks to Connections to Care. They complement the approximately 20 licensed social workers who also work there, according to Rachel Goldsmith, associate vice president of domestic violence shelters at Safe Horizon.
“By training so many staff,” she said, “it just increases the chance that we have somebody who can have that conversation and get someone engaged in the type of help they need.”
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect that the city-run nonprofits overseen by the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships are officially independent. Additionally, the post has been updated to reflect that first lady Chirlane McCray’s oversight of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is through her role as chair.
May Raymond can produce hundreds of documents to illustrate a marriage gone wrong: the repeated calls to the police; the reports detailing the time her husband smashed a table in her home, or when he punched her in the head, or when he promised to make her disappear; the orders of protection; the pink domestic incident reports stacked one on top of the other.
When that stack became too high, in the fall of 2015, Ms. Raymond searched online for how to get a divorce and then walked to the Bronx Supreme Court near her house.
The first step, she was told, was to find her husband, who was no longer living with her, in order to serve him the divorce papers. But suddenly he was nowhere to be found. Ms. Raymond searched for more than two years, to no avail.
“I just don’t want to be attached to this man anymore. To me it feels kind of disgusting,” Ms. Raymond said. “I need this part of my life to close.” And yet, she remained a wife.
Escaping intimate violence can be harrowing, as recent revelations about Eric T. Schneiderman, the former New York State attorney general, suggest. And even for people who are not in violent relationships, divorces can be complicated and take years. But for people like Ms. Raymond, who are female, poor and have precarious immigration status (Ms. Raymond has a temporary work permit), obtaining a divorce can be extraordinarily difficult.
When a domestic violence survivor seeks a divorce, she will most likely be faced with at least three obstacles: the sometimes-prohibitive costs of a private attorney; a legally complex Supreme Court that makes it nearly impossible to represent oneself; and the fact that the abused party must track down her spouse (barring a rare exception granted by a judge) to serve him divorce papers.
Nanny, 39, who asked to go by her nickname because she lives in a domestic violence shelter, made her own money. She worked in construction, painted nails, decorated for parties. When she first married her husband — after a whirlwind six-month romance — things were mostly fine. The only problem, she said, was that he was an extravagant liar.
They had two children together over 16 years of marriage, and the lies gradually deepened. As Nanny recalled, he told his family she slept all day and didn’t work; he cheated on her and vehemently denied it; he told their children their mother slept around.
Just one day after news broke that Fox is canceling “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Terry Crews is staying positive, pointing out to CBS News that the show lasted for more than 100 episodes. The actor, who plays Sgt. Terry Jeffords, said, “I’m super proud of all we’ve done and if by some incarnation we can come back in some kind of way — another network or something — I’m jumping at the chance, but as it stands right now, we are gone, and I’m not mad.”
Crews says he’s grateful for the run the show’s had and says it’s been “a privilege” to play a feminist, self-aware cop who loves his family. Crews tells CBS News he has a lot in common with his character, including their approach toward masculinity.
“As a man, you have to be invincible, which is impossible, and that’s the thing that really, really resonates with a lot of people — Terry Jeffords is not ashamed to say what he’s scared of, and he doesn’t even have to hide it through bravado,” Crews says. “Terry’s just like, ‘I’m very, very scared right now and that’s OK. We can talk about it and deal with it.’ I see a lot of me in that, especially since I came out and went through all my therapy. I’ve been so transparent and able to do the same thing and just say what could hurt me and how I’ve been hurt.”
Crews, who wrote a book called “Manhood” in 2014, was one of the few men in Hollywood to tell his story as part of the #MeToo movement. He and Tarana Burke, the founder of #MeToo, are being honored on Tuesday by Safe Horizon, an organization that works with victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking.
He says he got “choked up” meeting Burke at the Oscars.
“Fear begets fear, but courage begets courage,” says Crews. “Her courage spread like a wildfire. Her stand against this activity, this kind of violence, this kind of manipulation was so strong that it’s still reverberating right now. It’s this fearlessness the changes the world and to be honored at the same event with her — it’s one of the greatest honors of my life.” He says Burke is like a sister to him and adds, “Those who’ve been victimized — we’re kind of our own little family. … We’re not going to be quiet. We’re not going to be silent.”
Last year, Crews made headlines when he said that in February 2016, Adam Venit, the former longtime head of William Morris Endeavor’s motion picture group, groped his genitals at a Hollywood event. Though he didn’t make his accusations public at first, Crews says he felt like he had to come forward when people started maligning women who spoke up in the #MeToo movement.
“People were calling the women opportunists, gold-diggers, ‘They just want a payday’ or ‘Why are they coming forward now?’” he explains. “And I’m going, ‘Anybody who’s behind enemy lines needs to get to a safe spot.’ I couldn’t stand it. I had to lend my voice because it happened to me, and people were saying, ‘These women are crazy,’ and I said I gotta lend my voice to this.”
Crews says that when the incident happened, he felt he was in a particularly vulnerable position as a black man up against one of Hollywood’s most powerful players.
“Look at who I am,” he told CBS News. “I am 240 pounds, about 3 to 4 percent body fat. If I would have hit him, imagine, in the mouth or the eye and he had any sort of injury — I told the president of William Morris Endeavor, ‘If I had hurt him, would you give me any mercy?’ And you know what he said? ‘Nope. No.’ When you look at black men in society, the only way you get recognized as being victimized is when you’re dead. Anything before death is, ‘You should walk it off.’ Or if a guy shot you, ‘What were you doing that you got shot? Why were you there, that someone shot you in the back?’”
Crews says people often ask him why he did not hit Venit.
“This guy said, ‘Terry Crews’ career isn’t even all that, for him to get felt on and not fight back,’” recalls Crews. “But I thought, ‘But my family is all that. My wife and kids are all that. I don’t want my daughters seeing me in jail.’ … I’m a 48-year-old big, giant, grown man and he’s [a partner] at William Morris Endeavor and [if] I knock him out, am I getting mercy? I know how this story goes. ‘This is America,’ as Donald Glover says.”
Crews says when he complained to WME, Venit called him with a brief apology and nothing came of the complaint until after he aired his grievances in public.
“You’re an agent,” Crews says of WME. “Your whole purpose is to protect us. If you abuse us, who do we go to now?”
Since Crews went public with his accusations, WME suspended Venit for a month last year and stripped him of his department head title. In March, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office announced that they were not pursuing charges against Venit, saying,”Given that the suspect did not make contact with the victim’s skin when he grabbed the victim’s genitals and there is no restraint involved, a felony filing is declined.” Afterward, the Los Angeles City Attorney declined to pursue misdemeanor charges because the case exceeded the statute of limitations, reports Variety.
Crews responds, “You can just grab people through their clothing in front of everyone? And the thing is, what he did is considered a misdemeanor and the statute of limitations had run out, but if I had reacted violently — that would be a felony. It’s a trap, and all I could think about was all the young black men in jail right now who were probably reacting to things that were done to them.” Crews is pursuing a civil case against Venit.
Crews says that ironically, Russell Simmons, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and rape, was one of the people who asked him to drop his case against Venit and WME. He also says people at WME told him that what happened was no big deal and to “let it go.”
“I was like, this is what women go through all the time,” he says. “This is the gaslight.”
The actor says Safe Horizon provides services to victims who may not have the same strong support network he had. Crews says the key to healing is to overcome the feeling of shame.
“I tell people all the time, get rid of the shame,” he says. “Don’t hold it, because it’s not yours. It’s never yours.”
The actor says he also wants people in the black community to change their attitudes about masculinity.
“Black men, you are seen as invincible. … There’s this thing that doesn’t exist — somehow bullets are supposed to ricochet off your chest,” says Crews. “As a black man, I look in my own culture and we’re telling each other stories that — why do we believe them? The fact that getting therapy is seen as weak.”