SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – At a council meeting Oct. 21, Mayor Matt Anesh proclaimed October 2019 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the borough and encouraged the community to ‘be part of the solution to end such violence.’
“The crime of domestic violence violates an individual’s privacy, dignity, security, and humanity due to systematic use of physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, psychological, and economic control and/or abuse with the impact of this crime wide-ranging,” stated the mayor in his proclamation. “Violence against women, children, and men continues to become more prevalent as a social problem in our society and the problems of domestic violence are not confined to any group or groups of people but cross all economic, racial, and societal barriers…”
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.
Noting the need to increase public understanding of this important problem, Anesh, in his proclamation, stated that the borough supports ‘the efforts of national, state, and local partners, and of every citizen to actively engage in public and private efforts, including conversations about what domestic and sexual violence is, how to prevent it, how to help survivors connect with services, and how every segment of our society can work together to better address domestic and sexual violence.’
On a local level, South Plainfield's volunteer-run Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT) works hand-in-hand with the South Plainfield Police Department to help victims 7-days a week; those in need only have to contact the 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.
“Domestic violence crisis is in our hearts daily and although October may be the ‘official’ month to acknowledge, we feel help and assistance to those who reach out in need should be available to all during any month,” said a member of South Plainfield’s Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT).
“We are here to offer guidance and provide information on services available. Our goal is to help a victim feel empowered and give them the tools and information they need to move forward from abuse,” said another member of the DVRT, noting that many of the volunteers have been with the group for over 20 years. “We are all very committed and available to the community should they need us.”
The South Plainfield DVRT is also dedicated to educating the community and giving back. Victims of domestic violence are honored and remembered each October at a Candlelight Ceremony in Spring Lake Park; due to the work currently under way at the county park, this year’s walk is postponed until spring 2020. 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 as well as annually sponsors SCREAM Theater for South Plainfield high school seniors; SCREAM stands for Students Challenging Realities and Educating Against Myths.
“With leadership, dedication, and encouragement, there is compelling evidence that we can be successful in reducing domestic and sexual violence in Middlesex County through prevention education focused on increasing gender equality and bystander intervention, increased awareness, and holding perpetrators who commit acts of violence responsible for their actions,” states the mayor’s proclamation.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month dates back to 1981 when the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence held its first Day of Unity with the intent to connect battered women's advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. Abuse can be physical, emotional or psychological and is not confined to any group or groups of people and crosses all economic, racial and societal barriers.
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. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. Additional information, resources and services are also available through the New Brunswick-based non-profit Women Aware (www.womenaware.net), which offers free and confidential services, including a 24-hour hotline (732-249-4504), emergency shelter, legal advocacy, community education, support groups and children’s programs.
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