April Proclaimed 'Domestic Violence Awareness Month' in the Borough of South Plainfield

Sandy Cassio, Lesley Sanchez, and Marge Ackerman - volunteers with South Plainfield's Domestic Violence Response Team - accepts a donation from the Borough Council and Mayor Matt Anesh. Credits: Victoria Caruso

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – At a meeting this week, South Plainfield Mayor Matt Anesh proclaimed April 2018 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and announced April 25 as Denim Day in the borough. He also presented members of the volunteer-run South Plainfield Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT) with a $1,165 donation.

“Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the observance of ‘Denim Day’ are intended to draw attention to the fact that both domestic and sexual violence are widespread and have public health implications, including lifelong mental health impacts, for every community member of Middlesex County,” states Anesh in the proclamation.

The borough’s donation comes from fees collected for weddings performed by Anesh in 2017. “This money will help the team continue its mission of assisting victims of domestic violence,” said the mayor, adding, “This is a group of all volunteers who support those in need and I, along with the whole governing body, appreciate all that you do.”

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South Plainfield’s DVRT is run by seven 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, 7 days a week; those in need only have to contact the South Plainfield Police Department and let them know they need to speak with someone from the DVRT and a member will call them. DVRT members can also 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 greatly appreciate the support of the mayor and council.  Our goal is to assist and educate victims and the public about domestic violence and bullying. This donation helps us to continue our endeavors to this cause,” said Sandy Cassio who, along with fellow team volunteer Marge Ackerman and prospective member Lesley Sanchez, accepted the donation on behalf of South Plainfield’s DVRT.

The South Plainfield DVRT is also dedicated to educating the community and giving back. Each October, the volunteer group honors the victims of domestic violence with a Candlelight Ceremony at Spring Lake Park. The DVRT also provides annual college scholarships for South Plainfield High School seniors who have encountered and overcome violence, bullying or control issues throughout their school years.

Additionally, each year, the South Plainfield DVRT sponsors SCREAM Theater for South Plainfield high school seniors; the ‘SCREAM’ in SCREAM Theater stands for Students Challenging Realities and Educating Against Myths.

SCREAM Theater, which will take place this year on May 1, is a peer education improvisational theater group associated with the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance at Rutgers University. Through the program, interactive, educational skits are used to educate students on issues of interpersonal violence, specifically on sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and bullying.

“It is our hope that through public presentation, education and assistance to victims, we are able to ultimately lower the rate of domestic violence situations,” said Cassio.

“With leadership, dedication, and encouragement, there is compelling evidence that we can be successful in reducing domestic violence…through prevention education focused on increasing gender equity and bystander intervention, increased awareness, and holding perpetrators who commit acts of violence responsible for their actions,” states the borough proclamation.

Cassio added, “When a victim reaches out to us, we listen and give options for change. It is though these opportunities we hope to help victims become better educated to move forward to a safer, healthier and happier life without violence.”

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.

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