Showing up for Ourselves and Each Other: Community Care and Safety Planning in Times Of Crisis

These days, we are all feeling the impact of upheaval, violence, fear, pain, and rage, carrying the weight of it in our spirit, as we work to meet the challenges coming at us each and every day. We all know the challenges — pandemic, uprising, election, violence — even if they affect us differently.  

In the midst of all this, we must show up — for ourselves, and for one another.

During these times, it is especially important to lead with compassion for self, and trust that setting the boundaries for ourselves does not mean we are not in this together. Our community is creative and we are finding innovative ways to support one another and connect, being mindful of safety.  

Showing up for ourselves — Audre Lorde said it best “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” When we show up for ourselves, we also make sure that we are well and whole enough to show up for one another–as another adage goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Showing up for ourselves will look different for different people, in different situations.  

Here are a few ideas that you can use if they fit for you:

  • Tune in – Take stock of how you’re feeling physically, mentally, and spiritually, and whether you need rest, care, or support from others, or information to help you make decisions for yourself in this moment.  
    • Reach out for support – showing up for ourselves often means getting support from others, whether that is your chosen family, your pod, a mutual aid group, or an organization like AVP.
    • Spend time doing what makes you feel grounded – Turn to what brings you solace and inspiration, which could be our ancestors, faith, rituals, art,  culture, food, family, pets, friends, community.  
    • Gather information on things that matter to you, from trusted sources–like information on the pandemic from the NYS Department of Health, information on where to go vote, or where to get resources
  • Tune out the things that might be negatively impacting your mental, spiritual, and physical health – this can mean taking a break from social media or other news sources, or limiting when and for how long you tune in, and it might mean not reaching out to people who are sources of conflict for you. 
  • Plan for how to get what you need to increase your safety, health, and wellness – ask for help, and be specific — do you need money, food, information, or some other resource  to increase safety?  More on safety planning in these uncertain times, below.

My Self Check-In Plan

What am I feeling?  Who is in my community?  How can they support me? What do I need?  What are other resources that might be helpful? 

Community Care in Action: No matter what, we show up for each other. In times like these, we need each other.  AVP was founded by community activists when LGBTQ people were being hurt, and no systems were responding. We had to show up for our community, because no one else would. We believe radical healing from pain and rage is possible, if we show up, for ourselves and each other. We know what we need, and we know how to build safety together, even when we are physically distanced. So what are some ways we show up for our community? 

  • Create and maintain connection: Queer, trans, and non-binary folks create chosen family, pods, and community to help avoid isolation when physical distancing may be the key to staying healthy. These connections can be especially helpful if we’re forced to stay in an unsafe living situation, or if we experience violence on the street or at work. Lean on and lean into these connections. Reach out and check in on one another when we can’t physically be together. Set up regular text, phone, or video meet-ups. 
  • Share information and resources: Word of mouth is often the way that our community makes sure folks have access to inclusive and affirming resources and accurate information about what’s happening in the world. Share trusted sources and resources, and if you have more than you need, share food, money, clothing, shelter with others who might need a hand. Pick up groceries or offer child care, if you can. Reach out to organizations, like AVP, the Trevor Project, or the Trans Lifeline to volunteer. 
  • Find the best way for you to act in this moment: We recognize the desperate need to act for positive change in this crucial moment, and also that there are many ways to engage in radical social justice work.  Check out this resource to figure out the best role for you.  
  • Be an Upstander: AVP’s next Bystander/Upstander intervention training is coming up, to help build tools for our community to step up and support each other and interrupt the violence we witness.

Safety Planning-for ourselves and with one another: Safety is multi-dimensional — it’s physical, emotional, spiritual, and economic, and can change moment to moment.  Safety planning simply means we can identify what we need and how we might get it, to feel and be more prepared when in a crisis situation, or when we need extra support.

How do we create a safety plan? Check in with yourself and how you are currently feeling. Try to Identify what needs you might have if a crisis occurs or if you feel like extra support might be helpful during a difficult time. Some questions you might ask yourself are: 

  1. How am I feeling right now? What support do I need?  
  2. What am I afraid might happen?  
  3. Do I feel connected to my support systems or isolated? 

Keep in mind, there is no right answer here. Different people will need different things, and we all show up for each other in different ways. Here are some tips for safety if you are forced to stay with someone causing you harm and how to build safety while protesting.  

AVP is in this with you. If you experience or witness violence, or want to safety plan with us, call our 24/7 English/Spanish Hotline at 212-714-1141 or make a report online, either anonymously, or leave safe contact information, and a counselor will reach out.  If you want to organize with us and take action, email community@avp.org, and follow us on social media Facebook | Twitter  | Instagram.  

Coronavirus Update: AVP Office Closure

UPDATE 9/21: AVP’s offices will remain closed until at least January 2012.

UPDATE 7/1: AVP’s offices will remain closed until at least through September.

UPDATE 4/21: Under continued guidance from government and medical agencies, AVP’s offices will remain close through the end of May. We are continuing to monitor the situation.

ORIGINAL POST 3/16: 

We hope you are all taking care of yourselves and each other in these times that are stressful for all of us. We are writing to let you know that due to the escalating situation around coronavirus, and in the interest of our collective community’s health and well-being, AVP has decided to close our offices for in-person appointments and walk-ins, beginning Monday 3/16/20 and extending at least through 3/31/20. 

We know this is a difficult time for our communities locally and across the globe, and that many of you may have been personally impacted by the spread of coronavirus, and the violence and bias that often accompanies crises like this. We understand that taking precautions around avoiding getting sick can often create heightened stress and anxieties .

We also know that our communities are strong and resilient, and that we come together to lift each other up during times like these. At AVP, we are committed to remaining a resource for you during this challenging time.

Despite closing our offices for appointments, we are still here for you. As always, our 24/7 English-Spanish hotline (212-714-1141) is up and running—and we will support you with counseling, safety planning, and finding resources, including medical care, and take reports on any violence you experience.

If you are a current client at AVP, you can remain in touch with the staff member with whom you are working (e.g. Advocate, Attorney, Clinician, Paralegal, etc.):

  • If you are in email contact with the staff member, reach out via email.  We can set up phone sessions and provide resources via email, as needed.
  • If you do not have email access, or are not in in email contact with the staff member, please call the office 212-714-1184. Follow instructions to leave a message for the staff member and they will return your call.
  • If you are experiencing an emergency, call the hotline 212-714-1141 and let the person you speak to know which staff member you are trying to reach. They will get the message to that staff member, who will reach out to you with the means you provide for safe contact.

AVP is aware that the current pandemic is resulting in racist bias, disrimination, and violence, particularly against those who are or perceived to be Asian or Asian-American, and that for LGBTQ folks who hold these identities, the bias may be compounded.

If you’re experiencing or witnessing any violence, including in relation to coronavirus, you can report to our hotline (212-714-1141) or online.

No one should experience bias, discrimination, or harassment around any parts of their identity, including their race, ethnicity, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, but we know it continues to happen, and may increase in times of crisis like this one.

AVP is still here for you: anyone can reach out to us, even if you have never received services with us before:

  • CALL OUR HOTLINE at 212-714-1141: Our 24/7 English-Spanish hotline is up and running—and we will support you with counseling, safety planning, and finding resources, including medical care, and take reports on any violence you are experiencing.
  • Report bias, discrimination, or other violence you witness or experience online at avp.org/get-help.  You can remain anonymous or give us contact information for a counselor to reach out to you via phone or email to offer additional support.

During uncertain times, it’s important to find our grounding in what we do know and can do:

  • Everyday precautions can help protect you and your loved ones from getting sick. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.  Don’t touch your face.

  • If you are at higher riskof getting very sick from COVID-19, it is incredibly important that you reduce your risk of being exposed–stay home if you can, and avoid crowds.

  • Keep a 30 to 60-day supply of all necessary medications, particularly those who are living with HIV and/or have autoimmune deficiencies.

For continued updates: 

  • Call Department of Health 24/7 Hotline: 1-888-364-3065.
  • Go to nyc.gov/health/coronavirus and cdc.gov/coronavirus for regularly updated information.

  • Text COVID to 692-692 to receive NYC updates and guidance.

Please take care of yourselves and each other. 

AVP Demands Justice for Layleen Polanco

On Monday afternoon, AVP mobilized over 600 people at Foley Square to mourn the loss of, and demand justice for, Layleen Cubilette-Polanco, a 27-year-old Afro-Latinx transgender woman who was found dead in her cell at Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers on June 7, just eleven days before her next scheduled court date.

The news of Layleen Polanco’s death is particularly hard as it comes during a string of reported deaths of trans women of color. Whether the result of racist and transphobic hate violence, violence from a partner or date, or from neglect and abuse in ICE detention, these deaths highlight an epidemic of violence against trans women of color, particularly impacting Black trans women.

We organized the rally to hold the city and the Department of Corrections accountable and to demand the closure of Rikers. Layleen Polanco’s family, including her sister, mother, brother, along with other family members and close friends were in attendance. Layleen Polanco’s sister,

Melania spoke on behalf of the family, sharing her grief and anger over the lack of answers about the untimely death of her sister. Our support of the family and demands for justice continue.

The Anti-Violence Project calls for transparency and a full, and timely, investigation of Layleen Polanco’s death.

For more information on the rally, see some headlines below:

CNN: She was sent to Rikers Island because she couldn’t pay $500 bail. Now, she’s dead

NY Times: After a Transgender Woman’s Death at Rikers, Calls for Justice and Answers

Washington Post: A transgender woman died in her Rikers cell. Now her family is demanding answers.

For direct updates and information about AVP’s work, join our mailing list, here

For future AVP rallies and demonstrations, text ANTIVIOLENCE to 555-888.

AVP Learns of Hate Violence Incident in Times Square

AVP has learned of an anti-gay hate violence incident in Times Square. According to reports, a young woman was punched from behind in an attack that fractured her spine by a man who called her an anti-gay slur. The woman was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where she was treated for a fractured spine, police said.

The man, who is believed to be in his 50s, approached the 20-year-old victim on the Manhattan-bound E train near the Forrest Hills station on Nov. 30, the NYPD said. The man is described as about 5 feet, 11 inches tall and 220 pounds. His image is captured in video acquired by NBC New York.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

AVP learns of hate violence incident in Williamsburg

AVP has learned of an anti-gay hate violence incident in Brooklyn, NY. According to media reports, two gay men, 29 and 34, were attacked and beaten unconscious in Williamsburg around 1:00 am on Sunday, September 23. The suspect made anti-gay statements before assaulting the men who had left a popular Williamsburg gay bar, according to police. Local authorities are still searching for the suspect whose picture was captured as he fled the scene.

We have reached out to NYPD about the incident. If you have been impacted by the incident and would like to report or to seek support, reach out to AVP by calling our free and confidential 24/7 bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141 or our online reporting form.

AVP will join the New York City’s Commission on Human Rights for a Day of Visibility on Friday, September 28, morning (8:00-9:30 am) in response to this hate violence. The Commission on Human Rights will be passing out Know Your Rights information and AVP will be sharing resources on our services for survivors.

If you know any information, please report to NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Update: Brandon McNamara, 25, has been arrested and facing multiple charges for the incident. According to local news reports, “McNamara is charged with two counts each of second-degree assault as a hate crime, second-degree assault, second-degree aggravated harassment as a hate crime, first-degree harassment and second-degree harassment.”

AVP learns of incident in Hell’s Kitchen

AVP has learned of an incident involving a gay man in Hell’s Kitchen on August 14. 50-year-old Gregory Kanczes is reported to have been stabbed sixteen times by 25-year-od Geoffrey Tracy.  According to reports, Tracy stabbed Kanczes after Kanczes made sexual advances on him. They were living together.

Tracy was arraigned August 15 on charges of attempted murder and assault. Kanczes is in the hospital in critical condition.

AVP has reached out to NYPD, partner organizations, and to the office of Speaker Corey Johnson.

REPORTING VIOLENCE HELPS END VIOLENCE

AVP encourages you to report violence you experience or witness to our free and confidential 24-hour bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141 where you can speak with a trained counselor and seek support, or you can report violence anonymously online, or to ask for a counselor to reach out to you.

AVP learns of a hate violence incident in Brooklyn

AVP has learned of an anti-gay hate violence incident in Brooklyn, NY. According to social media posts by a family member, a woman was walking in her neighborhood when a man started to follow her. The man taunted her saying “You think you’re a man? Since you think you’re a man, I’m going to treat you like a man,” before hitting her in the face. The survivor sustained severe injuries.

AVP has reached out to NYPD for more information and is working with partner organizations in the area to continue to build safer communities for LGBTQ and HIV-affected people.

If you witness hate violence, including physical violence, you can:
  • Make your presence known by asking questions and talking to both the victim and the perpetrator.
  • Speak up, be LOUD, and call out what’s happening: identifying violence by name can help deter it.
  • Distract and divert the attacker’s attention by making a scene, and being noisy to draw the attention of others.
  • Record what’s happening by taking video on your phone.
  • Ask what support the survivor needs and provide it if you can.

 

REPORTING VIOLENCE HELPS END VIOLENCE:

AVP encourages you to report violence you experience or witness to our free and confidential 24-hour bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141 where you can speak with a trained counselor and seek support, or you can report violence anonymously online, or to ask for a counselor to reach out to you.

AVP learns of IPV-related incident in Astoria

AVP has learned of a potential intimate partner violence related incident in Astoria, NY. A 48 year-old man was found dead in the early morning hours of Thursday, August 9. According to media reports, the victim was found on the ground with cuts, bruises, and mouth filled with dirt.

Police are trying to locate the boyfriend of the victim’s ex-lover for questioning as it’s been reported he was last seen with him.

We have reached out to NYPD and partner organizations for more information.

REPORTING VIOLENCE HELPS END VIOLENCE

AVP encourages you to report violence you experience or witness to our free and confidential 24-hour bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141 where you can speak with a trained counselor and seek support, or you can report violence anonymously online, or to ask for a counselor to reach out to you.

 

AVP learns of incident at RIIS Beach

AVP has learned of a violent incident involving police at Riis Beach that occurred on Sunday, July 1, 2018. If you have been impacted by the incident and would like to report or to seek support, reach out to AVP by calling our free and confidential 24/7 bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141 or our online reporting form.

AVP is reaching out to Parks Enforcement Patrol and the New York City Police Department for further information. We will be doing outreach in Riis Park in the weeks ahead to hand out safety information and Know Your Rights resources. AVP will also provide opportunities for community members to attend Know Your Rights training sessions.

Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

  • If you’ve called the police, introduce yourself when they arrive. This shows that you know to report misconduct.
  • If you are harassed or attacked by the police, get their name and badge/car numbers.
  • You do not have to consent to a search of your person, your car, or your house. Do not try to stop police from searching you. Instead, repeat out loud, “I do not consent to this search.”
  • You have the right to watch and document police activities. Take video and pictures at a safe distance.

 

AVP encourages you to report violence you experience or witness to our free and confidential 24-hour bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141 where you can speak with a trained counselor and seek support, or you can report violence anonymously online, or to ask for a counselor to reach out to you.

AVP learns of back to back anti-LGBTQ incidents in Queens

AVP learns of back to back anti-LGBTQ incidents in Queens; our work is not done.

On Sunday, June 3, 25 year-old elementary school teacher Brandon Soriano was enjoying the Queens Pride festivities. At around 10 pm, he decided to pick up some food before heading home. It was then Soriano heard someone yell an anti-gay slur, right before being physically attacked by a group of men until he became unconscious.

Five days later, a transgender woman was stabbed five times by a man just a few blocks away from where Soriano was attacked. Because of she is undocumented, transgender, and a sex worker, she is afraid to report the crime to authorities. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported in its 2016 Hate Violence Report there was a 53% decrease over the last two years in survivors interacting with the police because of fear of bias, discrimination, and violence if they were to reach out to them.

TAKE ACTION

 

 

And you can always:

  • Report violence you experience or witness to AVP.
  • If you know someone who is an LGBTQ survivor of violence who is experiencing trauma or fear as a result of these recent actions, encourage them to contact AVP’s confidential 24-hour English/Spanish hotline at (212) 714-1141. They will be connected with a counselor who understands the ways this political climate is affecting our communities.
  • Get involved – volunteer with AVP!
  • Support AVP: Give now to ensure our voices are heard