East Windsor mayor recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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Domestic violence is an equal opportunity affliction that cuts across all socioeconomic groups and races, making “home” anything but a refuge.

To raise awareness of that social ill, East Windsor Mayor Janice S. Mironov declared October to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month in a proclamation issued at the Township Council’s Oct. 9 meeting.

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“Every year, we use October to focus on the issue of domestic violence and to make people aware of a serious problem in our community,” Mironov said. “I think the message we all have to drive home is that domestic violence is a very real thing.”

Domestic violence incidents often go unreported, but more recently, women have come forward to say they have been victims, she said. The stigma of domestic violence appears to have dissipated, she added.

“It is important that we take reports of domestic violence seriously and provide a service (to help victims), not to create further humiliation. That needs to be the message we need to drive,” the mayor said. “We need to provide support. It is up to the mayor and council and the entire enlightened community of East Windsor to proclaim October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”

Pointing to Patricia Hart, the executive director of Womanspace Inc., who was in the audience, Mironov noted there was someone in the room “who has seen more of this in her career than you realize. Pat Hart, we give you our thanks, our hearts and our encouragement.”

Womanspace helps victims of domestic violence. It grew out of the Mercer County Commission on the Status of Women in the mid-1970s. The issue of domestic violence was raised during the initial public meetings and a proposal was developed to provide services to women in crisis.

The result was Womanspace, which was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1977. Through the years it has helped more than 67,000 women, 13,000 children and 4,600 men who have been victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.

Hart thanked Mironov and the council. She said East Windsor was the first town to form a Domestic Violence Response Team to help and support victims of domestic violence. The team was formed in 1998.

“We formed a Domestic Violence Response Team at a time when people said no one would volunteer. We had 42 people sign up for training and we still have some of the original volunteers,” Hart said.

Hart praised the East Windsor Police Department, which conducted the initial training, for its continued support.

“We always relied on the police department to take the lead. The police are behind us,” she said.

There are hundreds of victims of domestic violence every year and it is not possible for Womanspace to respond to all calls, which is why the Domestic Violence Response Team is so important, Hart said.

The volunteer team responds to all calls, days, nights and weekends, she said. There is an incredible partnership between Womanspace, East Windsor and the volunteers, she added.

Police Chief James Geary said Womanspace is on the front line of shedding light on domestic violence.

Geary said the first person a victim of domestic violence will see after making a 911 emergency call is an intimidating sight, a police officer. But East Windsor police officers are taught to be caring, he said.

“Someday, I hope we never have to talk about domestic violence again, but until then we need to be sure the victims get the care they need,” Geary said.

 

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