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by Vanessa Friedman

Related: help centers for abuse victims, domestic violence help, safe centers for abuse victims, counseling for victims of abuse, center for healing,

Author and abuse survivor Angelica Harris plans to open a crisis center where women and teens suffering from domestic violence or sexual assault can hear, "It's not your fault."

In December, Glendale resident Angelica Harris, author of the sci-fi Excalibur book trilogy, released her memoir "Living With Rage: A Quest For Solace," which chronicles her personal journey through domestic violence and sexual assault. Now, Harris plans to open a crisis center for abuse victims in Queens, with the hope that no woman will have to experience the feelings of shame and abandonment that she documents in her memoir.

the unicorn project
Angelica Harris (front right) with her husband John L. LoCascio and children John Anthony and Andrea LoCascio. Courtesy Angelica Harris.

Using her novels as a jump-off point, Harris created the Excalibur Reading Program out of her home and has spent the past five years tutoring children with special needs and their families, helping them use writing to express themselves. "Writing has always been the way I could speak my voice without getting in trouble," Harris says. Her readers recognized darker themes in her Excalibur novels and reached out to her, asking if she herself experienced trauma and often asking for advice or solace. "I never realized my words would be so powerful," she says. Now, Harris hopes to use that power to help others in a more tangible way.

She has always wanted to create a space for teens and women struggling with traumatic life circumstances, she says, but never knew where she would host such a place. While shopping for gifts on Myrtle Avenue this past Christmas, Harris saw many small storefronts for rent. "At that moment, The Unicorn Project-Raven's Hope was born in my mind," she says.

The project is named both for the mythical animal, which is symbolic of renewal and resurrection, and Raven, one of Harris's close friends who was endlessly supportive of Harris's dream project for women and who recently passed away. The center will be an educational home of hope and healing for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and abuse.

Now in the very early stages of the project, Harris is focusing on raising funds for the center that she sees as absolutely vital for the community. "There's nothing like this in Glendale [or] Middle Village," she says. "I want a place where a woman can come in if she's been beaten or raped, and we can look her right in the face while she's crying and say, 'It's not your fault. We are here for you. It's not your fault.'"

For more information, including opportunities to get involved with The Unicorn Project, visit www.angelicaharris.com.


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