NEW YORK (WABC) -- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Channel 7 is proud to partner with one of the longest-serving nonprofits supporting abuse survivors across New York City.
Womankind opened its doors 40 years ago and ever since, thousands of women and children in the underserved Asian community have walked through those doors and found a path to healing.
The pandemic saw a spike in violent crime against Asian-Americans, week after week there was news of another unprovoked attack.
Throughout it all, one of the oldest charities in New York City serving Asian women, Womankind, was witnessing a disturbing uptick in domestic violence as well.
"For survivors what was really difficult we saw during COVID because of the shelter in place and increase of violence in the home," said Womankind CEO Yasmeen Hamza. "Folks were terrified to leave their home or access resources so imagine not only experiencing violence in the home but on the street."
Womankind's CEO said food insecurity and job loss compounded the domestic violence outbreak. A saving grace is the nonprofit's 24-hour multilingual hotline, run by staffers who speak English, Spanish and 18 Asian dialects, also has a unique text option which proves lifesaving to an abuse victim desperate for help.
"We had a survivor who called because they needed emergency housing their partner walking they were able to hang and go on our text and get the support they needed," Hamza said.
When Womankind's three community centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens had to close during the pandemic, staff offered counseling, legal advice, immigration services and protective services virtually, while two family havens remained open for abuse survivors to move in with their children.
Alex Ong has helped the tiniest clients of Womankind for 17 years and also serves on the Board of Trustees.
"I worked with a kid, he had a scar on his chin and the mother said the incident that gave him that scar, gave him the courage to reach out to Womankind and leave her situation," Ong said.
In 1982 Womankind began as the NY Asian Women's Center in Chinatown, with just one phone.
This year, Womankind marks its 40th year promoting social justice, freedom from abuse and continuing to shelter, feed and serve survivors across their lifespan from children and youth to elders who have experienced race and gender-based abuse, sexual violence and human trafficking.
"We have been able to reach this point only because of generation of supporters," said Chief Development officer Carolyn Antonio.
The charity relies on donors to support its myriad of programs and will continue until they're no longer needed and the goal of ending violence is reached.
Until then they are vowing to keep forging a path to healing until all survivors "rise above violence."
WABC-TV is proud to support Womankind for over 20 years.
Eyewitness News' own Nina Pineda and CeFaan Kim helped co-host the Womankind 40th Anniversary Gala at Chelsea Piers on Wednesday night.
Kim presented an award to Congresswoman Grace Meng.
You can learn more at Womankind's website.
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