FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2016
Contact: Min Um-Mandhyan
Director of Development and Communications
NYC Anti-Sexual Violence Community Celebrated Excellence in
Serving Victims of Sexual Assault
[New York City] On Wednesday morning, May 18, 2016, the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault (the Alliance) hosted their 7th Annual Celebration of Excellence event at Battery Gardens with nearly 200 guests. New York City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito opened the ceremony by praising the work of the Alliance. She stated, " The NYC Alliance is a true partner in our goal to empower survivors. Individuals who are the most at risk are those already living with oppression...Thanks to organizations like this [the NYC Alliance], we are lifting the taboos that have kept us in the dark for so long." She also shared the news that the new report for the Young Women's Initiative, just released this week, makes more than 100 policy recommendations for achieving equality for young women of color in NYC.
The event honored six professionals who worked tirelessly to respond to the needs of sexual assault victims in New York. The awards are named after Detective Lydia Martinez the late Special Victims Division detective who made domestic and sexual violence her expertise. The Lydia Martinez award recipients were Stacie Buckner
, Rape Crisis Professional in Staten Island Safe Horizon
, Victor Paribello
, Detective, Special Victims Division of the NYPD, Elmer Siong
, Sexual Assault Examiner at Elmhurst Hospital
, Jennifer Gaffney
, Deputy Unit Chief of the Sex Crimes Bureau at New York County District Attorney's Office
, Zeinab Eyega
, Executive Director at the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women
, and Bryan Aston
, a volunteer advocate for New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical Center
Commissioner of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence
, Cecile Noel,
presented awards to the six recipients. She stated, "Together we can create a culture where consent is as simple as we know it should be". She added, "Every survivor in New York City should know they are not alone". The Commissioner thanked each awardee for their tireless dedication to eradicating sexual violence.
The Celebration featured a short documentary
of the awardees. Each winner shared a few remarks upon receiving their awards. "Life is about celebrating others. Sharing hard times and celebrating successes", said Buckner, Rape Crisis Professional. Detective Paribello stated, "It's not often we get recognized but we do this work because we are passionate about it. The truth is this award could have been given to anyone". Siong, Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner said, "My job allows me to start that survivor on the road to recovery". Deputy Unit Chief of the Sex Crimes Bureau, New York County District Attorney's Office stated, "Collaboration is the best and only way to work". Eyega, Executive Director at the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women who won the Preventionist Award said, "There is no word for sexual violence in some languages. If you cannot name it, it doesn't exist. So you are their voice in the room. Give them voice to name it for themselves."
The event culminated with the keynote address from Monifah Carter, a Grammy-nominated recording artist and star of TV One's docu-series titled R&B Divas Atlanta. She shared her own experiences as a survivor and transferred her attention to the importance of educating younger generations on sexual violence. "Our greatest influence is our testimony. It is important we stand up, and what we pour into them [young people] is what we pour back out," said Carter.
"Working With Youth To Prevent Sexual Violence" was the theme of the Celebration. The Alliance also revealed its plan to launch a city-wide media campaign to raise awareness for sexual violence among youth in marginalized communities. A small group of high schoolers that has been working with the Alliance to help launch a media campaign attended the event. Two youth participants from South Asian Youth Action!
, Samena Hoque and Fariha Kaji, shared a few remarks about an upcoming youth media campaign they have been working on with the Alliance for the past eight months. They said, "Youth voices are constantly put down based on the assumption that youth have nothing important to say. It's wrong... Youth are the ones being impacted... Our voice is valued in the media campaign. It is empowering to be taken seriously." The other student noted,"The media campaign will speak powerfully to youth. We will take on the hard issues and have honest conversations about sexual violence."
Mary Haviland, Executive Director said, "Every year, the Alliance celebrates the excellence in serving survivors of sexual violence, often overlooked when working in a field that is often responding to crisis. It is our job to take a moment to recognize those extraordinary professionals who work day and day out with survivors in their communities. We are deeply touched by how humble and selfless these awardees are. Together, the hope is that we can envision a city without sexual violence".