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For 40 years we have been helping move victims of all crime and abuse from crisis to confidence. Safe Horizon was founded in 1978 as a pioneering pilot program in New York City’s court system to support witnesses who had been intimidated or felt too threatened to testify. Today we are the largest victim services organization in the country, touching the lives of more than 250,000 individuals each year.
Safe Horizon is founded as the Victim Services Agency

The creation of the Victim Services Agency marks the end of a demonstration grant of the Vera Institute of Justice called the Victim Witness Assistance Project (V/WAP) which provided support to victims who had been intimidated or who felt too threatened to testify in court. Mayor Ed Koch awards a city contract to establish the VSA in 1978 with a mission to heal the wounds of violence and prevent victimization. (Shown in picture: Lucy Friedman, Victim Services Agency’s first CEO, the late Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan, Board Member Emeriti, and the late Mayor Ed Koch)

The Victim Services Agency launched several programs in 1978: Project SAFE, Crime Victims Hotline, complaint rooms in Brooklyn & Bronx Courts to offer help and advocacy for orders of protection, reception centers in criminal and family courts, and children’s centers in courts. A year later we also launched a program to support survivors of homicide victims.

Victim Services Agency launches free Mediation Services

This pioneering service offers an alternative to the traditional court process. It was started first in Brooklyn and then expanded to Queens.

Victim Services Agency merges with Travelers Aid Services

The Travelers Aid Service’s mission was to assist family and friends of victims, travelers in distress, homeless, runaways, immigrants, and crime victims and their families. Services included transportation, tourist information, stranded passenger services, and a 24-hour runaway hotline.

Two innovative programs also launch in 1982. First, Alternatives to Violence provides educational workshops to the abusive partner in domestic violence cases. Second, Project Oasis offers a network of more than 100 beds throughout NYC host homes. Victims of domestic violence and their children found shelter provided by women willing to open their homes, marking the beginning of our domestic violence shelter program.


In Brooklyn and Bronx, we launch Emergency Family Day Care for domestic violence survivors and their children, providing training and support for daycare providers and mothers.

Streetwork Project launches

Streetwork Project begins as “street work,” an effort to reach homeless young people who are living on the street and in need of resources to stay safe. Many of the young people had fled their home due to violence and abuse but had few supportive services to turn to in the early 1980s. In response, Streetwork Project opens a storefront drop-in center and conducts outreach by foot with staff fanning out into the streets, arcades and movie houses of Times Square area. Today, the program operates two comprehensive drop-in centers, an overnight shelter, and an outreach program.

Domestic Violence Prevention Program launches

Victim Services Counselors are paired with police officers to reach out to families that report domestic disturbances to police.

We introduce four new initiatives
  • Rape/Incest Hotline
  • Family Assistance Program
    Assistance for families recovering from incest by providing long-term individual, family and group counseling for victims, their siblings, non-offending parents, and offenders.
  • Petition Rooms
    In all five boroughs, petition rooms are created to interview and counsel victims of domestic violence and to explain court processes and advocate for Orders of Protection.
  • Supervised visitation begins at the Brooklyn & Queens Family Courts
Our Queens Community Program opens

The services originally offered include: crisis intervention and counseling for victims of crime, support groups for domestic violence survivors, a food pantry, and counselors fluent in six languages who had expertise in immigration issues. Today, we have community program offices in all five boroughs.

Other programs launched in 1987 include:

  • Immigrants’ Legal and Educational Services
    Providing representation and advice on matters of immigration law; offers educational programs including GED classes. Today, our Immigration Law Project (ILP) provides information, advice, and free and low-cost legal representation to victims of crime and abuse with immigration law-related matters.
  • Homeward Bound
    Helps individuals and families in the NYC shelter system return to their families located outside of NY State.
Safe Horizon’s Counseling Center opens. It is the only New York State-licensed mental health clinic specializing exclusively in trauma treatment for victims of crime and abuse. Today, it still holds that honor.
1990 Emergency Housing Transfer Program

Our Emergency Housing Transfer Program launches in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority and New York City Housing Preservation & Development. The program arranges for domestic violence survivors and other intimidated victims living in public housing to transfer to safe housing in other areas of New York City.

1991 The Staten Island Community Office

Our Staten Island Community Program opened to provide short-term counseling, practical assistance, support groups, and counseling/support for rape victims provided by volunteer advocates on-call 24 hours a day.

Safe Horizon opens the Westside Legal Project, offering pro bono legal assistance to domestic violence survivors. Today, our Domestic Violence Law Project (DVLP) provides free legal representation, information, and consultation to domestic violence victims on family law matters including orders of protection, custody, divorce, and child support.
We open our first fully-owned and operated domestic violence shelter, which was later named Lang House in honor of Joann and Todd Lang. We now operate eight shelters across New York City.
Domestic violence is one of the most difficult things a person can go through. And then, in order to save yourself, to have to leave your home, take your kids, leave everything that you have, go into a shelter, and start your life over again. To me, it’s incredible that people have that kind of strength

Joann Lang, Board Member

Our Domestic Violence Hotline opens

In 2017, our Domestic Violence Hotline advocates answered more than 86,000 calls.


The Jane Barker Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center , the first of five CACs, opens after many years of advocacy and planning. Modeled after a program created in Alabama, our CACs provide a neutral setting to coordinate and expedite the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases involving severe physical abuse and all cases of sexual abuse. The groundbreaking approach offers effective, immediate, and sensitive support in collaboration with the NYPD, ACS and King’s County District Attorney and local hospitals. This pioneering model would become the gold standard of child abuse response and treatment.

Other programs launched in 1996 include:

  • Solace Program
    Working with torture victims, refugees, and asylum seekers. This program later becomes the foundation for our work with survivors of human trafficking.
  • Child Advocacy Resource and Consultation Center (CARC)
    Providing training and technical assistance to Child Advocacy Centers and Multi-disciplinary teams throughout NYS.
  • New Hope
    Emergency housing for abused women and children.
1998 Staten Island Children’s Advocacy Center

Our second CAC opens to provide services to victims of child abuse and their families on Staten Island. It will go on to become fully co-located in 2009.

We updated our mission statement:

"To provide, support, prevent violence, and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities."

We change our name to Safe Horizon

We adopt our tagline: “Moving victims from crisis to confidence.” To increase our focus on providing services for victims of violence, several programs move to other organizations, including the Immigration Hotline and Travelers Aid Program.

September 11th attack and rapid expansion to serve victims of 9/11

Following the tragic terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, we are called upon to help citizens of the city heal. Safe Horizon steps to the frontline to help victims impacted, setting up operations in the Lexington Avenue Armory as the center for victim services and assisting with the Family Assistance Center at Pier 95. We help more than 45,000 people. During this time we also serve as a conduit for the 9/11 Fund and distribute approximately $200 million in compensation and financial assistance. Safe Horizon staff increased to 1,000 to meet the demand for victim services after the tragedy.

Our Anti Trafficking Program (ATP) opens. With funding from the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, ATP pioneers services for trafficking survivors in New York City and is now the largest anti-trafficking program on the east coast.

After 9/11 we were in shock, our neighborhood was a war zone and our street was closed for weeks. I didn’t know when we would get back home. I saw a tent with a Safe Horizon sign in the neighborhood. I was so relieved to know that a local agency would provide help to the community. I stepped into the tent for a glass of water but what I got was so much more. I got aid for my family to manage the costs of being out of our home and hope that together we would get through this. Thank you Safe Horizon.

Ellen, Safe Horizon client − resident of downtown Manhattan

2003 Queens Child Advocacy Center

Our third CAC opens, serving victims of child abuse and their families in Queens.

2006 Child Victims Act Advocacy

Safe Horizon joins a statewide effort to pass the Child Victims Act, legislation that if enacted would reform New York’s overly rigid statute of limitation laws for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The Act would allow more time for survivors to bring criminal charges and file civil litigation against those who committed the abuse or knowingly failed to report it. Our efforts to pass this legislation continue today.

2009 Manhattan Child Advocacy Center

Our fourth CAC opens, serving victims of child abuse and their families in Manhattan.

2010 Client Centered Approach Established

Safe Horizon completes a strategic planning process, making a commitment to establish a structured, client-centered approach to practice across all programs and sites, and investing in new training, supervision, and quality assurance tools to achieve this goal.

Minor Victims of Trafficking Program launches
2014 We adopt a new vision statement:

Safe Horizon envisions a society free of family and community violence. We will lead the way by empowering victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking to move from crisis to confidence.

Following the now infamous Ray Rice domestic violence incident that was caught on video and widely circulated, we launch a fundraising and public awareness campaign, #PutTheNailinIt.

The campaign asks participants to donate to Safe Horizon, paint their ring fingernail any shade of purple and share an image on social media. Celebrities and people from all around the world have since joined the campaign.

2015 Bronx Child Advocacy Center

Our 5th CAC opens in the Bronx, capping a 20 year effort to provide healing and justice to child victims of abuse in all five boroughs.

The Young Men of Color Working Group

Safe Horizon joins with experts from organizations across New York City that actively serve boys and young men of color to form The Young Men of Color Working Group. This group identifies and explores effective outreach methods to engage young men and provide culturally appropriate trauma-informed services to address their needs. Initial learnings from the working group are piloted at Safe Horizon’s Manhattan-Bronx and Brooklyn Community Programs and Counseling Center with the vision of better serving boys and young men of color in New York City.

2016 & 17

Crime Victim Assistance Program

We partner with the New York Police Department (NYPD) to place one domestic violence victim advocate and one crime victim advocate in every precinct in New York City by the end of 2018. This groundbreaking effort is part of ThriveNYC, a comprehensive mental health initiative championed by First Lady Chirlane McCray.

Satellite Counseling Locations

Our Counseling Center establishes satellite clinics in four Safe Horizon sites: the Manhattan/Bronx Community Program office, two domestic violence shelters and the Streetwork Project Uptown Drop In Center for homeless youth, ensuring that many more survivors of crime and abuse have access to quality, trauma-focused counseling.

Child Trauma Response Team

Through this unique program, a child trauma responder is placed within a police precinct to follow-up within 72-hours of a domestic violence incident being responded to by an NYPD officer. The child trauma responder reaches out to the family to offer services, conduct a trauma screening and engage the family in trauma treatment. The program was piloted in the 23rd Precinct in East Harlem in 2016 and has expanded to include more precincts in Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx.

Child Victims Act
Since 2006 Safe Horizon has taken an increased leadership role in advocating for passage of the Child Victims Act by organizing an energetic, statewide coalition of survivors and advocates, leading press conferences with key government officials, advocating directly with lawmakers in Albany, and more. The New York State Assembly passed versions of the bill several times over the past 12 years, including most recently in 2017; it has never been passed by the New York State Senate.
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