Victims of sexual violence in NYC can now find support on their smartphone

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By Dan Sears

The NYPD and advocates for sexual assault survivors unveiled a 54-page online resource guide Wednesday with information about the services available to victims of sex crimes across the five boroughs.

The guide includes referrals for physical and mental healthcare, financial support, legal services, cyber-abuse resources, housing aid and other support services. It summarizes the kinds of help each group offers and also lists their contact information and hours. It will be updated regularly, police and advocates said.

NYPD officials said flyers with a QR code linking to the guide are being posted at every precinct, public housing district and transit district citywide.

Emily Miles, executive director of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, said even though many free services exist across the city, it can be daunting for many survivors to find them.

“We are making it just a little bit easier for survivors to access these critical supports, allowing them to begin the process necessary for them to truly heal,” she said.

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The NYPD’s Special Victims Division has faced criticism over the years for its handling sexual violence cases. A 2018 Department of Investigation report found the unit had been understaffed and underfunded for years, causing many sexual assault cases to fall through the cracks. Investigators also said inexperienced and overworked detectives in the division often re-traumatized survivors.

The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the unit in 2022, which is ongoing. One of the survivors who urged the DOJ to probe the NYPD’s treatment of sexual assault survivors accused the department of botching its investigation into a rape she reported in a lawsuit filed last year under the Adult Survivors Act.

NYPD officials stressed their commitment to supporting survivors at Wednesday’s press conference and said the Special Victims Division had recently added more than 30 investigators, boosting its staff to the highest level in years.

Deputy Chief Carlos Ortiz, who has led the unit since 2022, said officers are working to provide a “survivor-centric approach.”

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“The collaboration between Special Victims Division and special victims advocates is strong and unwavering,” he said.

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