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Middlesex County Family Justice Center Launches Website

Resource for Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the Community-at-Large

In Middlesex County, New Jersey, victim/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and stalking now have a new way to learn about, and connect with, the free and comprehensive services available to them. It is the Middlesex County Family Justice Center website at https://middlesexcountyfjc.org. The website is funded by a grant from the U. S. Department of Justice Office for Violence Against Women 2021 Improving Criminal Justice Responses to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Grant Program (ICJR). The site offers information on the help and services available, accessing help, safety planning, connecting with resources, and on news and events.

“The website offers victim/survivors information about, and access to, services provided by more than a dozen Family Justice Center partners, including domestic violence, law enforcement, legal, immigration, culturally-specific, human, social, and housing service providers,” explained Middlesex County Family Justice Center Direct Mildred Torres. “To better serve the rich diversity among our neighbors in Middlesex County, the FJC website site is translatable, at the click of a button, into 12 languages.”

The Middlesex County Family Justice Center is the first of its kind in the County and only the fifth in the State of New Jersey. The goal of the Family Justice Center is to reduce domestic violence homicides, and increase the safety and confidentiality of domestic violence survivors and their children in collaboration with co-located victim services agencies. The FJC helps survivors and their families get the resources and support they need in one location.

Women Aware is the Lead Partner in the Family Justice Center and responsible for its day-to-day operation. “The breadth of services available to victim-survivors through the Middlesex County Family Justice Center is a testament to our partners’ collective commitment to a strong coordinated community response to domestic violence and sexual assault in our community,” stated Women Aware Chief Executive Officer Phyllis Yonta.

Partners include The County of Middlesex (the Middlesex County Office of Human Services, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Middlesex County Center for Empowerment, and REPLENISH), Central Jersey Legal Services, Jewish Family Services, Partners for Women and Justice, American Friends Service Committee, Middlesex County Board of Social Services, NJ DCF Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Coming Home of Middlesex County, Manavi, Town Clock Community Development Corporation, A Partnership for Change, Dress for Success Central New Jersey, and Middlesex County Family Court.

The Family Justice Center is located at 100 Bayard Street, Room 406, New Brunswick and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. Women Aware’s domestic violence hotline is available 24/7 at 732-249-4504, toll-free at 833-249-4504.

Website Designer – Raygun Design

Website Developer – Mangrove

National Night Out in Middlesex County

On National Night Out, August 1, Women Aware’s Domestic Violence Response Team volunteers tabled events in seven Middlesex County communities, providing information about free and confidential services for victim-survivors of domestic violence and their children. Our team is thankful for our partners in law enforcement in the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and in police departments across the county. Working together, we serve survivors better.

The Association of Indians in American New Jersey Chapter Hosts Fundraiser to Benefit Women Aware

Sunday, July 23 - Akbar Restaurant, Edison, NJ

The Association of Indians in America (AIA), New Jersey Chapter, is hosting a fundraiser on Sunday, July 23, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to benefit Women Aware and Manavi (https://www.manavi.org/), a partner in the Middlesex County Family Justice Center.

The event will take place at Akbar Restaurant in Edison, NJ. Tickets are $50. The event will feature inspiring guest speakers, live music and dance, a silent auction, and lunch. To purchase tickets, visit AIA’s registration page at https://www.aianj.org.

Proceeds to Women Aware will be used to provide free and confidential services for survivors of domestic violence and their children in Middlesex County, NJ.

Women Aware is the state-designated lead domestic violence agency for Middlesex County—the second most populous county in the state and one of the most diverse. For more than 42 years, Women Aware’s comprehensive programs have provided support across the spectrum of client needs—from emergency crisis intervention to long-term efforts toward independent living. All services are free and confidential. Services include a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, long-term supportive housing, legal advocacy, community education, support groups, and children’s programs. Services are available to all persons regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender expression, national origin, marital status, and military status.

Women Aware Honored with New Jersey State Governor’s Volunteerism Award

Domestic Violence Response Team Receives Emergency Services/First Responders Medallion

The New Jersey State Governor’s Volunteerism Award medallion was presented to Women Aware’s Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT) at the June 25, 2023 Presentation Ceremony & Celebration of Volunteerism at the Grounds for Sculpture.

(Photo) Representing the DVRT were volunteers Carol Robinson, Patrica Romagna, Ditpi Parikh, and Christine Clayton-Stroh. Program administrators were Edward J. O’Malley, chair emeritus, NJ Governor’s Advisory Council on Volunteerism and Community Service, and Michele Hayes, vice president, Marketing, NJ Advance Media (far right).

Women Aware’s DVRT members are trained volunteers on call to meet victims of domestic violence with compassion and empathy at their local police station, upon request by the police dispatcher, following an incident of abuse. DVRT volunteers provide crisis services that include emotional support, safety planning, and information on domestic violence and community resources. Twenty-one volunteers serve 11 municipalities across Middlesex County. Women Aware’s DVRT undergoes regular training on topics such as temporary restraining orders, legal options, and high-risk abuse such as strangulation. They also attend refresher training classes to strengthen their understanding of Women Aware’s programs and services.

Some Women Aware DVRT volunteers moved beyond abuse themselves and want to give back to victims. They may know someone who experienced intimate partner violence and either benefited from services or did not know that services were available and suffered alone. They are kind, compassionate individuals from diverse backgrounds who volunteer their time to become trained first responders to victims in crisis.

When a victim is brought to the police station following an incident of domestic violence, they need to be believed and reassured that they are not, and will not, be alone as they deal with this crisis in their life and, possibly, in the lives of their children. A trained DVRT volunteer is the compassionate first face a victim meets from Women Aware, Middlesex County’s state-designated domestic violence service agency. By listening and providing calm support, DVRT volunteers open the door for victims to access the free, confidential services that Women Aware’s professional advocates offer to anyone experiencing abuse in the county. In 2022, Women Aware’s DVRT volunteers conducted 231 safety planning sessions and provided information about community resources to 230 clients. Furthermore, DVRT volunteers staff Women Aware’s outreach tables at community events such as National Night Out and Domestic Violence Awareness Month. At these events, volunteers serve as ambassadors and educators to inform the public about the services available to survivors of domestic violence and their families, and how to access them. By connecting survivors to Women Aware, DVRT volunteers assisted the agency in serving 2,638 individuals in 2022, 17% more than in 2021. The agency provided emergency shelter to 278 women and children fleeing for their lives from violence in their homes. Women Aware’s legal advocacy team conducted 3,377 safety planning sessions in 2022 and assisted survivors in securing 853 temporary restraining orders, a 73% increase over 2021.

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month

Middlesex County Elder Abuse & Exploitation Conference - June 15

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. The Middlesex County Office of Aging, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey, Adult Protective Services of Middlesex County, and East Brunswick Community Arts Center are collaborating to provide an Elder Abuse & Exploitation Conference. Older adults (60+), caregivers, and professionals who are members of the aging population in Middlesex County are invited to attend.

When: Thursday, June 15, 2023, 9:30am to 12:30pm

Where: East Brunswick Community Arts Center, 721 Cranbury Rd., East Brunswick, NJ

Registration: Deadline to register is June 9. Register here.

New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence Advocacy Day 2023

More funding needed to serve survivors

On May 18, 2023, Middlesex County Family Justice Center Director of Legal Resources Ellen Schwartz (l) joined New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence (NJCEDV) Director of Policy and Education Nicole Morella and a host of advocates in Trenton, NJ to speak with legislators about the need to increase funding for domestic violence services.

To learn more from NJCEDV about the impact New Jersey’s domestic violence programs are having on victim-survivors, where more funding is needed, and what are the Coalition’s legislative priorities, click here.

2023 Spring Appeal Underway

Matching gift sparks Playground Challenge campaign

In the safety of Women Aware’s emergency shelter, nourishing food, toys, books, school supplies, homework help, and fun family activities are plentiful for children who escaped domestic violence in their home. What is missing is an outdoor playground where our youngest clients can climb, slide, giggle, play, and be children. In 2022, children’s play on the backyard playground halted abruptly when fire damaged the playground area.

Women Aware serves an average of 122 homeless children each year in emergency shelter. The playground is more than just equipment, it serves as a safe space for children impacted by domestic violence, fueling their imagination, and supporting the development of important social and physical skills.

Accept the Playground Challenge and you will help GIVE our youngest clients a new playground!

Give by May 31 – DOUBLE Your Gift
Thanks to generous anonymous donors, your donation to Women Aware will be matched dollar for dollar in the Playground Challenge! If Women Aware raises $10,000 by May 31, these anonymous donors will match every gift up to $10,000. That will put us two-thirds of the way to raising the $30,000 we need. We hope your generosity will get us all the way there. If we are fortunate to receive more donations than we need for the playground, remaining funds will be used for general operating expenses related to services for survivors and their children.

It’s easy to give:

Thank you for giving!