Stories of Recovery

Krystal's Story

How Krystal learned to write her own story and go with her mother on a journey to hope and happiness.

Outside of TV and movies, eight-year-old Krystal* had never witnessed real violence. But that changed when her mother, Colleen*, became the target of her stepfather’s violence. That’s when the compassionate social workers of our Horizons domestic violence program stepped in and placed them in a safe and secure environment where they could recover and rebuild. This is their story.

A Crisis at Home

Krystal’s stepfather had been verbally abusive in the past, but this time was different. He had just come home upset with her mom over something and in a rage. His yelling woke Krystal up, and she watched as the yelling turned physical. Scared for her mother, Krystal didn’t know what else to do, so she called the police for help.

When the police initially arrived, nothing was done: Colleen’s husband couldn’t be removed for a number of reasons, including the fact that the apartment they shared was in his name. Her stepfather stayed in the home, and not long after, he became physical with Colleen again – this time even worse. Colleen became fearful for her life and the life of her child, so when the police returned, she asked for a safe place for her and her daughter to stay. The police gave Colleen the number for Horizons, The Jewish Board’s emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children.

A Safe Environment for Recovery

Horizons supports families during crisis, putting them on a path to transitional and more permanent housing. Staff provide counseling, crisis intervention, advocacy services, and comprehensive safety planning, all while acting as a liaison between clients and service providers, including District Attorney’s Offices, NYC Children’s Services, the NYPD, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), immigration attorneys, and interfaith spiritual caregivers. If needed, Horizon staff also accompany clients to family, supreme, and criminal courts.

One of Horizon’s compassionate and knowledgeable social workers, Dadrene, met with Colleen and Krystal, partnering with them just in time to ensure they received the supports they needed to escape an abusive situation while also preventing them from spiraling into homelessness.

Dadrene built a particularly strong relationship with Krystal, who had been burdened by the trauma of the violence she witnessed and its ripple effects on the family. Appearing withdrawn from the world, and struggling to articulate her emotions to others, Krystal was matched with a child counselor, who helped her learned to channel her thoughts constructively. Dadrene also connected Colleen with a counselor of her own and arranged for Krystal and Colleen to have family counseling together. Dadrene also made sure Krystal and Colleen could maintain a sense of normalcy by having Christmas gifts to share.

Building Bonds and Rebuilding Lives

Each activity provided by Horizons left a lasting impact on the family; soon, laughter became more prevalent, communication skills improved, and Krystal and Colleen’s bond grew stronger. Dadrene assisted them with finding their own apartment, a space where they could continue growing.

Today, Krystal stands as a recent high school graduate, poised to embark on her college journey. During her time in high school, she participated in CUNY’s Work Learn Grow program, which combines coursework and internships to foster students’ development, and she is pursuing a career in digital content creation and journalism, while Colleen has rediscovered optimism and a sense of safety that she had not felt for a while.

While the term “shelter” often carries negative connotations, and there is a stigma attached to seeking help can deter someone from seeking help, knowing that one is not alone and is embraced with genuine care enables personal growth, and that is precisely what Horizons offers to those in need.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients.

Our Continued Support

Learn more about our domestic violence services and how we're provide a safe environment for an individual or family to recover.

Domestic Violence Services

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