Nonprofit hosts vigil for survivors 1

Robina Niaz of Turning Point for Women & Famiies, left, Mahila Mithun, and other domestic violence survivors and TPNY staff.

A domestic violence vigil was held at the gazebo at Rufus King Park in Jamaica on Tuesday by Turning Point for Women & Families, a nonprofit dedicated to helping primarily Muslim women and girls in domestic violence situations.

Turning Point was founded by Robina Niaz, a social worker, in 2004.

“Whether we are domestic violence survivors or not, when we show our support of someone who is facing domestic violence or families that are facing this challenge everyday, we are saying we care,” said Niaz. “The Muslim community came under fire directly after 9/11 and there was no organization that was speaking to Muslim women facing domestic violence.”

Shortly after founding the organization, Niaz’s first client told her that a previous social worker said, “It must be OK for you to be abused, because you are a Muslim woman.”

Niaz was heartbroken by what she had heard, but was happy to provide a system of support that helped Muslim women without discriminating against them.

“We have survived thanks to the support that we get from different sources and within the community,” said Niaz.

One of the supporters for Turning Point is Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica).

“This organization is something that is so near and dear to my heart,” said Adams at the vigil. “A few weeks ago we were in a silent march in Flushing ... It struck a nerve for me ... because I was marching for a young lady who I’ve come to adopt in a sense, a young lady who has aged out of foster care in the city. She is about 20 years old. She comes from an abused life. Her father beat her mother to death.”

While she has not gone through the cycle of domestic abuse, Adams is proud to be of service to those facing that challenging situation.

“Your work gives me strength,” said Adams to the workers at Turning Point. “I will continue to commemorate this time of year so that we can never forget what survivors have gone through, but we also hold the hope of the future, because the future is bright.”

Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), the first and only Muslim member of the City Council, was the first elected official to provide funding for the organization, according to Niaz.

“He stood by us when we couldn’t even find one room to sit to continue doing our work,” said Niaz. “He has introduced us to other people, like Councilwoman Adams ... we are in the heart of your districts.”

Miller is proud of the work that Turning Point does.

Turning Point provides crisis intervention, individual counseling, English language lessons, job help, mentoring for teen girls, senior services, referrals to legal services, support groups and information about women’s rights and immigration and child safety laws, according to tpny.org.

“You have done so much,” said Miller. “Even though I’m transitioning out of the Council, my advocacy and my support of Turning Point will continue, that I assure. Whatever resources I have extend beyond the Council. I am an ally.”

Mahila Ahmed Mithun, a mother of two who has been separated from her husband for a year after filing an order of protection, is thankful for Turning Point.

Mithun was homeless when she left her husband and recalled not having money to buy her daughter strawberries.

Turning Point has found her and her children housing and is helping her to find gainful employment.

“I remember when I received $500 from Turning Point after that situation with the strawberries,” said Mithun holding back tears. “It might have been a small thing for them, but it was a big thing for me. I went back and bought some strawberries.”

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