August 26, 2020 Domestic Violence and Disabilities 2 Comments


Lucrecia (Lucy) Ayala joined Barrier Free Living (BFL) this summer as the Sexual Assault Services Coordinator at our Secret Garden program, a brand new position at the agency. We touched base with Lucy to find out what drew her to the work, and what she hopes to achieve. 

BFL: What drew you to apply for this new position at BFL?

Lucy: I recently graduated from my Master’s of Social Work program in May at Stony Brook University and I spent the last year of my internship working at Elmhurst Hospital in the Emergency Department, covering the Adult and Pediatric wings, performing intakes for patients reporting domestic violence and sexual assault. The work was very empowering and meaningful, both personally and professionally and I wanted to pursue work in emergency services and intimate partner violence. A professor from my first year of school referred me to the program and the position. There are many organizations out there working with survivors of domestic violence, but not with the attention to intersectionality in the way Barrier Free Living does and that’s what ultimately drew me to this role.

BFL: It is a new position on our team. Can you tell us a little bit about the goals of the position and the role you hope to play on our team?

Lucy: People often view the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault as two separate entities, but the unfortunate reality is that they are overlapping public health crises. Those who are physically abusive can also be sexually violent, but there is a lot of stigma and even skepticism around sexual abuse, especially in the home. The risks of experiencing sexual and physical violence are high for individuals with disabilities or who are Deaf or hard of hearing and there are significant challenges to getting assistance. The goal of the position is to help bridge the gaps between all these intersections and provide safe, comprehensive services to sexual assault survivors with disabilities and those who are Deaf in an accessible and culturally sensitive environment. My role is to work with Secret Garden and Barrier Free Living in developing support resources, counseling services, and agency best practices to ensure that individuals who come to Barrier Free Living seeking assistance and advocacy are not met with obstacles but solutions.

BFL: What do you see as possible challenges in this new role?

Lucy: With all new endeavors, it can be hard to find your footing and lessons might be learned along the way. I would be setting a precedent for this position, a task that is both daunting and exciting. The biggest challenge will be balancing the goals of the position while also accommodating public health standards and rules as a result of COVID-19. Collaboration and teamwork is vital when it comes to the issue of sexual assault, especially when thinking about advocacy and policy, which is difficult during a time where we need to be social distancing. However, the important thing I like to remember is that the distancing is only physical, despite what the name suggests.

BFL: Are you a native New Yorker? What do you do in your free time. Any hobbies or ways to de-stress?

Lucy: My family came from Guatemala and moved initially to Chicago, but I was raised from infancy in the Queens/Long Island area. I love traveling and going to the movies, though that’s on pause for time being. I love watching TV, reading, birdwatching and spending time with my dog and partner. I also love painting and I am a bit of a gamer.

Lucrecia Ayala, MSW (Pronouns: She/Her)
Sexual Assault Services Coordinator Secret Garden
Voice Hotline: (212) 533-4358 (Mon.- Fri. 9am-5pm)Voice Hotline: (212) 533-4358 (Mon.- Fri. 9am-5pm)
Deaf Services: (646) 807-4013 (Mon.- Fri. 9am-5pm)
Fax: 212-673-5167
Email: [email protected]


  1. Vangie 4 years Reply

    HI Lucy! Welcome to FH. I’ve provided educational services for FH, and other local temporary housing facilities in the neighborhood, for about 13.5 years. FH is a wonderful place to work, the staff is focused on the main goal of working together for the families and is like a second family in itself! Being able to help residents, according to our roles, is beyond meaningful. You have a welcoming smile, hope to meet you face to face soon.

    • Barrier Free Living 4 years Reply


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