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Healthcare Heroes 2020

Licia Sandberg, Esq.

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Photo by Duvell Campbell | Courtesy Westchester Medical Center

Founder and Senior Director of SAAVE, the Sexual Assault Abuse and Victims Empowerment program at Westchester Medical Center

“Compassionate. Respectful. Empowering. Trauma-informed. This is the kind of care I strive to provide,” says Licia Sandberg. And it’s exactly what her clients need: Sandberg is the founder and senior director of SAAVE, the Sexual Assault Abuse and Victims Empowerment program at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.

   Formed in 2018, the program offers services such as crisis intervention, safety planning, referrals for medical and mental healthcare, and legal advocacy, among other services. SAAVE also provides sexual-assault and intimate-partner-violence prevention training throughout the county, including training for first responders.

For Sandberg, an attorney by training, SAAVE represents a natural career progression. “When I first began practicing law, I represented many immigrants who were domestic-violence victims,” she explains. “Ultimately, I realized that a program such as this, where I could impact more than just one client at a time, would be beneficial.”

Sandberg’s uncompromising advocacy stems not just from her legal experience but also from her personal experience. Several years ago, she was the victim of threatening texts and e-mails, and obtained an order of protection against her harasser. “As a victim myself, it’s been incredibly meaningful to be able to provide these vital services to other victims,” she shares.

Anyone wishing to access SAAVE’s services can call its 24/7 hotline at 833.220.2444. “We find teenage children who have been assaulted. We’ve had older women who’ve decided to date and ended up being drugged in a bar. It can affect anybody — men, women, the LGBTQ community,” Sandberg says.

Ultimately, she adds, “Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. By connecting victims to the services of their choosing, we strive to bring power and control back to victims as they begin their road to healing.”

“SAAVE advocates are caring and compassionate. Services are free. We’re here to support and heal.”