TRENTON, NJ - As we end this month and move into the holiday weekend where many of us will be celebrating our country’s independence, we must pause to remember the eight lives lost and the communities left mourning as a result of fatal domestic violence incidents that occurred in four communities across New Jersey.
- June 1, in Fair Lawn, Barbara Tempe, 73, and Rich Tempe, Sr., 76, were shot and killed by their son Rich Tempe, Jr., 53, before setting fire to the home they shared and turning the gun on himself
- June 10, in New Brunswick, Pradipkum Shah, 53, was shot and killed by his son Vishal Shah, 20
- June 14, in Jersey City, Monica L. Haddad, 44, was shot and killed by her husband Raymond S. Haddad, 54, before turning the gun on himself
- June 27, in Springfield, Roth Brown, 51, and her father Thomas Brown, 79, were fatally stabbed by Roth’s son James Brown, 27, in their shared home
While all of these cases made headlines, there was little discussion within them regarding domestic violence. In New Jersey, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act recognizes victims of domestic violence as individuals who had a relationship with the perpetrator of violence — a current or former spouse, a current or former dating partner, as well as a current or former household member. Domestic violence takes place in families from all backgrounds and communities and while we often discuss domestic violence among married or dating couples, the reality is that violence and abuse occurs in all different types of family and co-habiting relationships.
We have come far in our response to domestic violence in New Jersey. Over the last 40 years, we have witnessed the development of laws, a strong network of providers, and increased awareness and education around the issues of domestic violence. But we must go further; this is simply not enough.
Earlier this week, Acting Administrative Director of the Courts Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D, released the Report of the Supreme Court Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic Violence. The committee, formed by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner in February 2015, provided 30 recommendations in the document after an examination of current domestic violence laws, the interaction between municipal and Superior Courts in domestic violence matters, resources available to victims of domestic violence, treatment options for adjudicated offenders, and methods of risk assessment and requirements for education and training. Committee members included representatives from all three branches of government, the private sector, academia, advocacy groups and attorneys representing the interests of both domestic violence victims and offenders. The report is available on the Judiciary’s website and available for public comment until July 29, 2016 (njcourts.gov).
NJCEDV, represented on the Supreme Court Ad Hoc Committee, looks forward to seeing how and which recommendations the Judiciary prioritizes. It is clear there is a commitment from all involved to improve our responses to victims and their families, as well a recognition that more must be done to reduce the number of lives lost to domestic violence in New Jersey every year. Individuals, families, communities and providers must have the tools, information and resources available in order to identify and effectively respond to high risk domestic violence cases before they turn fatal.
About the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence (NJCEDV)
Known as the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women (NJCBW) for nearly 40 years, NJCEDV provides leadership, support and resources on the prevention of domestic violence for all victims in New Jersey through advocacy, education and training, technical assistance and community awareness.
Help is Available:
To learn if a relationship is abusive or if abuse is suspected, it is important to take it seriously, get information and share resources. Help is available in every county and for every victim through a network of programs dedicated to serving domestic violence victims and their families. The State Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-572-SAFE (7233). A list of programs and services is available at NJCEDV.org.