Skip to main content

Providing Sanctuary for Survivors

In the heart of New York City, Sanctuary for Families is the leading provider and advocate for survivors of domestic abuse, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence. Last year alone, the organization provided vital support to over 7,200 adults and children facing adversity. Among those was “Maria”, a mother navigating a challenging past with determination and grace.

Around five years ago, Maria, grappling with profound grief, found herself entangled in a struggle with alcohol and substance abuse. Her path took a tragic turn with a fatal car accident, leading to her incarceration. Undeterred, Maria immersed herself in personal transformation within rehabilitation programs and her church community from prison.

Seeking parole, Maria turned to Sanctuary for Families in May 2023. Mintz attorneys Todd Rosenbaum, Jessica Goudreault, and Kristen White worked to prepare Maria for her chance at parole, helping her draft a personal statement, and collecting over 20 letters of support that vividly portrayed her journey towards rehabilitation. As Maria prepares for her parole hearing in January 2024, her story demonstrates great resilience in pursuit of a better future.

Kristen said, “Witnessing the profound impact Maria has had on so many lives reinforces the importance of our work. It’s incredibly rewarding as an attorney to contribute to an individual’s journey toward a better life and make a positive impact on the broader community. In pro bono cases like these, everyone comes out a winner.”

In parallel efforts, Mintz attorney Nicholas Butto engages in protective order cases through Sanctuary for Families, offering aid to survivors of physical, verbal, and psychological abuse from past intimate partners. Currently, Nick is involved in three protective order cases, each involving courageous female survivors seeking legal protection. Collaborating with Member Kaitlyn Crowe on the first case initiated in August 2023, the case has progressed to trial testimony, where Nick presented evidence of aggravated abuse, a pivotal step in securing protection for the survivor.

Nick has also represented several other survivors seeking protective orders, working closely with Mintz Member LisaMarie Collins and Law Clerk Bianca Bernardi. In conjunction with Sanctuary for Families, Nick and Bianca are drafting a motion to dismiss a proposed change in custody agreement, citing the history of violence perpetrated against their client.

Reflecting on his involvement with Sanctuary for Families, Nick said, “Far too many individuals suffer behind closed doors from domestic abuse and intimate partner violence. It is an epidemic that has worsened in recent years. I think it is important to send a message that those survivors are not alone. I’m so proud to work with Sanctuary, to represent these strong and brave individuals, and to support them as they use their voices, tell their stories, and secure their right to feel that they and their families are safe.”

Adding another layer to this narrative is an asylum case, handled by Mintz attorneys Jessica Goudreault and Chris D’Aliso. Joining the case in early Spring of 2023, they represented a client victimized by her husband in El Salvador, enduring years of control, physical abuse, and rape. She fled to the US to ensure her children’s safety, though the case remains on hold due to a matter within the family.

Chris said, “Hearing about the horrific instances of domestic abuse suffered by our client was a sobering experience. We are committed to supporting her in overcoming the extraordinary, difficulties she has endured, granting her the chance for a new beginning in the United States.”

Jessica said, “There are so many opportunities Sanctuary offers to us, and I think we have an ethical obligation as attorneys to make sure that for all of the work that we do for our billable clients, we also provide resources for those who can’t otherwise afford it.”

In a city where vulnerabilities persist, Sanctuary for Families, alongside dedicated pro bono attorneys, stands as a force for positive change. Each story of transformation and empowerment contributes to the collective effort in renewing hope and offering survivors the opportunity for a fresh start.

Pro Bono Team:

Todd Rosenbaum, Member, Co-chair, Class Action Practice

LisaMarie Collins, Member

Kaitlyn Crowe, Member

Kristen White, Of Counsel

Nicholas Butto, Associate

Chris D’Aliso, Associate

Jessica Goudreault, Associate

Bianca Bernardi, Law Clerk

Subscribe To Viewpoints