SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – October was officially designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 1989 and on Friday, Oct. 2, the South Plainfield Domestic Violence Response Team (SPDVRT) will hold a Candlelight Ceremony at the gazebo at Spring Lake Park, beginning at 6:15 p.m. The goal of the ceremony is to spread awareness and show support to victims of domestic violence abuse.

Candles will be provided to all who attend and informational handouts will be distributed. Additionally, attendees will receive free purple – the color to represent Domestic Violence Awareness – glow bracelets as well as other items. Additionally, weather permitting, the ceremony will feature ‘Silent Witness’ silhouettes; the silhouette represent Middlesex County women, children, and men who have died as a result of domestic violence. All are welcome to attend.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (nadvc.org), a woman is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds in the United States and, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner, equating to more than 10 million women and men each year.

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When people grow up or spend time in an abusive relationship the lines of abuse versus ‘normal’ behavior become blurred. Many make excuses for abusive behavior and oftentimes feel if they ‘acted better’ the abuse and stress will end,” said a member of SPDVRT, adding, “That is called the ‘cycle of violence,’ where power and control become the driving force of the abuse. It is our goal to enlighten people that abuse and violence have many faces and give them resources and options of how to identify and move forward from those relationships.”

The SPDVRT is run by 10 volunteer residents who work hand-in-hand with the South Plainfield Police Department to help victims of domestic violence. The team is on call 24 hours a day; those in need only have to contact the South Plainfield Police Department and let them know they need to speak with someone from the SPDVRT and a member will call them. SPDVRT members can provide information, support and referral services and will speak with the person over the phone or at the police station. All information is free and confidential.

“We share options and explain the process of retraining orders and best practices for being safe and preparing a safe exit plan from an abusive relationship,” said the SPDVRT member. “It is our goal to make a victim feel empowered and give them the tools and information they need to move forward from abuse.”

Signs you may be in an abusive relationship or that you are a victim of domestic violence include: feeling worried that you will not please your partner; being forbidden from saying what you think or being afraid to say what is on your mind; being unable to take time out for yourself without feeling guilty or frightened; feeling anxious or nervous when your partner is due home; feeling relieved when your partner works later; being slapped or hit by your partner regularly; explaining away black and blue marks on your body; finding yourself making excuses for your partner’s behavior when he/she treats you badly; feeling afraid or ashamed to talk to others about the way your partner treats you.

For more information or to reach a member of the South Plainfield Domestic Violence Response Team, contact the South Plainfield Police Department at (908) 755-0700. For emergency assistance, call 911.

Additional information, resources and services are also available through Women Aware (www.womenaware.net), a New Brunswick-based non-profit whose mission is to end domestic violence in the lives of women, children, and men, and to change societal attitudes and institutions that promote and condone violence, through public policy, advocacy, education, and programs and services that promote lives free of violence. Founded in 1979, the organization offers a 24-hour hotline (732-249-4504), emergency shelter, legal advocacy, community education, support groups and children’s programs. All services are free and confidential.

“Domestic violence thrives when we are silent; but if we take a stand and work together, we can end domestic violence,” noted the SPDVRT member.