The ESCAPE NOW project is a community-oriented effort of AHRC New York City‘s Department of Day Services and Teachers College at Columbia University. For over twenty years, the project has concentrated on educating people with developmental disabilities using the Effective Strategy Based Curriculum for Abuse Prevention and Empowerment, (ESCAPE). ESCAPE NOW empowers people with disabilities over twenty-one years of age in all five New York City boroughs to identify and extricate themselves from verbally or physically abusive situations. Originally the program was geared to help women help themselves to prevent sexual assault. Today ESCAPE helps men and women recognize, avoid, and handle abusive situations. The curriculum is used in all of AHRC NYC’s day programs and has been introduced in other AHRC NYC departments.

Ishita Khemka, Ph.D, Columbia University Teachers College’s Linda Hickson, Ph.D, and AHRC NYC’s Aikaterina Chatzistyli

Ishita Khemka, Ph.D, Columbia University Teachers College’s Linda Hickson, Ph.D, and AHRC NYC’s Aikaterina Chatzistyli

St. John’s University‘s Ishita Khemka, Ph.D., Columbia University Teachers College’s Linda Hickson, Ph.D., and AHRC NYC’s Aikaterina Chatzistyli spoke at Columbia University Teachers College on May 21, 2015. They spoke about the importance of ESCAPE NOW and the value of knowledge in preventative decisions; the seminar received a great response.

The project has added a SmartBoard app, assessment checks, an individual participation binder, new and up-to-date research and surveys, field tests for feedback, and a certificate of completion. Additionally, it has audio and visual vignettes covering sexually and physically abusive situations. The course attempts to reinforce the information in each unit auditorily, visually, and through focus groups.

The attendees collaborated in groups, discussing methods of spreading the word about ESCAPE NOW and how to get out of abusive situations. Many individuals who attended the seminar seemed inspired, passionate, and interested in becoming ESCAPE NOW instructors. ESCAPE NOW is a great way to protect the community’s rights and to keep people with developmental disabilities safe.