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Individuals who have survived sexual abuse are a unique type of client, with unique needs. Throughout my career it has always been my goal to be the person that these clients can feel comfortable reaching out to. In my role with Weitz & Luxenberg, my hope is to advocate for survivors and get them all of the justice that they deserve, which the criminal justice system can’t always deliver.
Samantha Breakstone has joined Weitz & Luxenberg, working on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse to hold accountable the individuals and entities that ignored their role in harming others. She is helping survivors who seek financial compensation for what happened to them.
The experience Ms. Breakstone has from her years of working as an Assistant District Attorney in the Special Victims Bureaus and the Human Trafficking Unit of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, enables her to provide excellent representation and support to these survivors.
“I decided to move from criminal practice to private practice because more and more I felt that the criminal justice system was only handling part of the problem. Survivors were not getting all the justice that they deserved,” Ms. Breakstone points out.
“Monetary compensation is a large part of that justice. I moved to Weitz & Luxenberg because it is one of only a few firms practicing this form of law. Weitz & Luxenberg is at the forefront.”
Sex trafficking of women has been a constant epidemic in the United States and around the world. Cases of sex trafficking ― recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, and obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through force, fraud, or coercion ― have been reported in all 50 states and are continuously on the rise.
While the trafficker is primarily responsible and can, and should, be prosecuted in the criminal justice system, complicit in this industry are the hotels, motels, and other businesses that allow these criminal enterprises to flourish. These companies don’t report the crime before them because typically it is to their financial advantage to let it happen.
As Ms. Breakstone describes, “You must work to establish trust and let the client tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Trauma takes a long time to heal and trust can take a long time to develop.”
She continues, “This is one of the reasons I moved to civil law. In criminal courts, the statute of limitations for prosecution is typically between one and five years. In the civil courts, the statutes of limitation for these claims can be much longer. This is important because it allows the client the time they may have needed to work through their trauma and prepare to address what was done to them.
“My experience has taught me that survivors want to talk to someone who has dealt with this area before, who is not patronizing, who speaks their language, and will listen to their experience in its entirety even when they struggle to put into words what they have been through and continue to endure. While I shouldn’t have to say it, survivors should be treated as whole people, and not only as victims.”
Ms. Breakstone worked for five years as a Felony Trial Assistant District Attorney in the Special Victims Bureaus of King’s County District Attorney’s Office, including the Domestic Violence Bureau, Elder Abuse Unit, Youth Advocacy Court, and Human Trafficking Unit.
“As I prepare each case, building rapport with my client and earning their trust is paramount. I let them lead the conversation, only using directed questions to get the information we need to help. A large part of building trust is having open and nonjudgmental conversations,” explains Ms. Breakstone.
She empathizes with clients, “all that you need to bring to our initial meeting is your story, what you can remember. We will help to build a timeline, investigate, and help you to fill in certain gaps. You know a lot about what happened, even if you don’t realize all that you know. Trauma is a sneaky beast. My job as an attorney is to help you organize your information and build a case, working together to get you justice for the terrible wrongs that have been done to you.”
“I will provide effective legal help for you in your case and promise to be a strong advocate for your rights,” Ms. Breakstone pledges.
As part of her master’s degree in clinical and research bioethics Ms. Breakstone worked at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio as a clinical bioethicist, coordinating with medical teams. She trained in working with people on sensitive issues and how to foster and build relationships across disciplines.
Ms. Breakstone has bachelor’s degrees from Vanderbilt University in both psychology and medicine, health, and society, and a minor in art history. She holds a J.D. as well as an M.A. in clinical and research bioethics from Case Western University.
Beyond her legal work, Ms. Breakstone has authored three papers on elder law.
Samantha Breakstone will be happy to review your case.