Training program

Vocational training program aims to help survivors of domestic violence

NEW YORK, NY – From the great outdoors in America to the most populous cities, domestic violence knows no bounds.

Even in the country’s largest city, Sheena Butler felt that isolation, as she lived with her young son and father.

“You feel like you’re alone,” she says. “The minute I get off the elevator before I put the key in it, I always say a prayer like, ‘Please let us have a good night’s sleep. I don’t feel like arguing tonight.

Butler spent 15 years working in retail in New York City. The lockdowns turned his career upside down during the pandemic and put his life at home more in the spotlight.

“When the pandemic happened, our arguments became more important,” she said.

She was not alone. According to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, incidents of domestic violence have increased by more than 8% across the country. The United Nations said incidents of domestic violence increased by more than 20% globally during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Butler said she suffered verbal and financial abuse from her son’s father.

“I didn’t know I was in an abusive relationship,” she said.

Once she did, however, she and her son went to a shelter run by the Urban Resource Institute.

It also opened up a whole new world.

“The Fab Lab that we have in our center is the only one in the United States of America that focuses on providing an environment where students have access to machine engineering, technology and the ability to doing robotics, ”said Joel Gregory Thomas. , Senior Director of URI’s Economic Empowerment Program.

The all-new Fab Lab is designed to help victims of domestic violence and homeless shelters find a new career path in the COVID era, focusing on training for jobs in demand.

“When you think of the jobs of the future, it’s about the environment,” Thomas said. “We have 3D printing, 3D scanning. We also have milling.

There is also access to on-the-job wardrobes and job interview training for 500 people in the New York area program. Coupled with the tech-driven training, they hope it can inspire shelters elsewhere to try the same.

“We hope that it can really be that we can have the capacity to have a model that other shelters and other organizations can really look to,” Thomas said.

The idea is that financial independence can help people who are victims of domestic violence to fend for themselves.

“You always want to be confident. You still want to believe in yourself, ”said Sheena Butler. “And when you’re in that situation, you don’t believe in yourself.”

While living at the shelter, she received vocational training and landed an internship in a marketing department. She is now looking for a full time job in a field in which she would never have imagined working.

“It showed me something different,” Butler said. “It showed me that I can really be anything and do whatever I want to be.”

If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE. You can also go to or click here.

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