UNION COUNTY, NJ-- The Seventh Annual Union County C.A.R.E.S. (Community, Action, Response, Education, Safety) Domestic Violence Symposium is scheduled to take place later this week, and those working in fields dedicated to serving victims are being encouraged to register and learn from a host of subject-matter expert speakers.

A joint presentation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and YWCA Union County, along with supporting partner organizations including the Union County Board of Commissioners, the Union County Office of Victim/Witness Advocacy, the Union County Family Justice Center, and the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, the Symposium is being held virtually for the first time, and will begin at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 22 via Zoom. Attendance is free of charge, and registration, which is open to the public, is available online at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_LzXp8vujQfu-iK6yYkpHhQ.

The first six symposiums were held annually in person at Kean University, until the 2020 version was postponed due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The topic of the 2021 Symposium will focus on precisely that – how the most significant public health crisis in multiple generations has affected domestic violence response and mitigation, and what innovative solutions have been implemented to meet the related unique challenges.

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The 2021 Symposium will consist of a brief series of welcoming remarks by acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo, Union County Board of Commissioners Chairman Alexander Mirabella, and YWCA Board of Directors President Tina Earley, followed by three panel discussions, each moderated by YWCA Union County Assistant Executive Director for Core Services Adela Caceres. The panels, consisting of established leaders in local law enforcement, healthcare, and victims’ services, include the following speakers, each of whom volunteered their time, energy, and expertise:

  • Elizabeth Police Department Chief Giacomo Sacca
  • Prosecutor’s Office Domestic Violence Unit Supervisor/Assistant Prosecutor Theresa Hilton
  • Saint Peter’s University Children’s Hospital Child Abuse Pediatrician Julia DeBellis, MD
  • Trinitas Regional Medical Center V.P. of Behavioral Health & Psychiatry James McCreath, Ph.D.
  • YWCA Union County PALS (Peace: A Learned Solution) Director Alejandra Londono
  • Partners for Women and Justice Policy Counsel Trish Perlmutter, Esq.

As with previous iterations of the Symposium, all participants are invited to interact in real time via live tweeting using the hashtag #UCCARES.

“Improving and streamlining the method in which incidents of domestic violence are investigated and prosecuted has been a top priority for my administration, and our efforts to keep local professionals and members of the public informed about something that impacts so many in our community via the Symposium is an extension of our commitment,” Prosecutor Ruotolo said. “I am so grateful to our extraordinary roster of partner organizations and all of our dedicated speakers, both for their remarks today, and their efforts every day, to ensure that survivors receive the services, dignity, and justice they deserve.”

“While many of us stayed at home during this pandemic in order to stay safe, the home of a domestic violence victim may not be a safe space. Providing care and supportive services took on a new meaning this past year,” YWCA Board President Earley said. “YWCA Union County values working with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and our co-sponsoring partners to shed light on how this pandemic has affected victims of domestic violence, and the challenges related to providing much-needed services in a mostly virtual environment.”

“The New Jersey State Bar Foundation is proud to co-sponsor this important symposium on this crucial topic,” added Foundation President Norberto Garcia, Esq. “The pandemic brought to the forefront the reality faced everyday by those affected by domestic violence. We are pleased to play a part in conveying this valuable knowledge to those facing these challenges.”

Domestic violence impacts 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men in their lifetimes worldwide, and cuts across all racial, economic, religious, ethnic, and other community lines, bearing an annual monetary cost in the United States approaching an estimated $10 billion in lost work productivity and earnings, and medical and mental health costs.

For information on resources available to victims of domestic violence in Union County, go online to https://ucnj.org/prosecutor/departments/victimwitness-unit/resources/. For general information about the legal definition of domestic violence in New Jersey, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and resources for victims available statewide, go to https://www.njsp.org/division/operations/domestic-violence-info.shtml.

To learn more about the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and its mission, go online to https://njsbf.org/.

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