October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

NJ Residents Advised to Access Available State Resources and Advocate for Victims of Domestic Violence


TRENTON, N.J. – During the month of October, "Domestic Violence Awareness Month," New Jersey residents are urged to honor the victims and survivors of domestic violence by working to reduce the prevalence of such violence in their communities and to become better acquainted with the programs and services that can help survivors. The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) have many resources available to prevent domestic abuse and assist survivors.

"Domestic violence can happen to anyone. Without help, domestic violence often becomes more severe over time and can turn deadly, which is why community outreach about available resources is so important," said DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa. "People facing this kind of abuse can turn to numerous organizations that are able and ready to lend assistance. At the forefront of this group is the DCA's Division on Women, which offers advocacy programs for survivors of domestic violence and is here to offer support in any way it can."

According to the most recent statistics available, there were 8,351 victims of domestic violence throughout the state who utilized their local domestic violence service program in 2009. That same year, 1,562 women and 1,850 children were sheltered in New Jersey as a result of domestic violence.

The DCA's Division on Women (DOW) administers the Women's Shelter grant program, which allocates funding annually to domestic violence agencies to help them maintain or improve the physical structure of shelter facilities or improve services such as counseling and legal advocacy for people using the shelters.

It also helps to fund and support the Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline, which serves domestic violence victims and others seeking information about domestic violence 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2009, domestic violence hotlines throughout the state received 24,038 crisis calls and 36,011 non-crisis calls from victims.

Additionally, the DOW houses the New Jersey Advisory Council on Domestic Violence and oversees the New Jersey Domestic Violence Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board, which studies intimate partner-related fatalities and near fatalities in an effort to understand and prevent such deaths through systems changes, education and public policy.

Creating awareness about domestic violence and supporting the victims is also a top priority at DCF.

"Domestic violence impacts us all, as individuals, as families, and as communities. And now more than ever, we not only understand the seriousness of domestic violence, but also the co-occurrence of issues common in domestic violence cases," said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake.

Today, through its Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships, DCF funds a domestic violence agency in every county and oversees a total of eleven Peace: A Learned Solution (PALS) programs, which provide intensive counseling and creative arts therapy for children who have witnessed domestic violence.

This year, in partnership with the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women, DCF established both the Domestic Violence Protocol, a set of guidelines geared toward helping professionals working with victims of abuse or neglect and domestic violence, and the Domestic Violence Liaisons program, which provides the Division of Youth and Families Services (DYFS) local offices' with training and assistance in DV cases.

Governor Christie along with DCA Commissioner Grifa and DCF Commissioner Blake encourage all New Jersey citizens to acquaint themselves with these programs and do their part to improve domestic violence prevention and victim safety and hold perpetrators of domestic abuse accountable for their actions.

For more information about domestic violence, please go to http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dow/announcements/octdvawaremonth.html on the DCA website and http://www.nj.gov/dcf/prevention/domestic/index.html on the DCF website.