Domestic violence will be focus of Dec. 3 event in Mercer County

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It may be just a candle in a sand-filled bag, but to a victim of domestic violence, that candle can help to light the way out of a dim situation – through Womanspace’s annual Communities of Light domestic violence awareness campaign.

Womanspace, which helps victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, sells luminary kits – candles, paper bags and sand – to raise awareness of those issues, which may affect men as well as women and children.

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Each luminary kit contains six candles and costs $10. The luminary kits are available at Casa Aziz, 4 Hulfish St., Princeton; McCaffrey’s at the Princeton Shopping Center, 301 N. Harrison St., Princeton; and at Weidel Realtors, 190 Nassau St., Princeton.

Communities of Light, which is also Womanspace’s signature fundraising event, will culminate on Dec. 3, when households across Mercer County place candles in the sand-filled bags and put them out in front of their homes.

Dozens of Womanspace supporters gathered recently to kick off the 17th annual Communities of Light campaign and fundraiser, and to recognize Pam Mount as the honorary chair of this year’s campaign. She is the co-owner of Terhune Orchards, Lawrence Township.

Patricia Hart, the executive director of Womanspace, said that raising awareness of domestic violence is critical, and the Communities of Light campaign is one way to do so.

“Communities of Light is intended to raise questions. What are luminaries? What do they stand for? What is Womanspace? All of those questions raise awareness. That is our goal,” Hart said.

“Everyone deserves to live in a house that is peaceful,” Hart said, paraphrasing the Communities of Light slogan of “Peace begins at home.”

Municipal leaders are key to the Communities of Light campaign, Hart said. When municipal leaders light the luminary kits, it lets the victims know that they are not alone. It lessens their sense of isolation and gives them hope, she said.

Hart pointed to the Domestic Violence Victim Response Team, which is a cooperative effort between Womanspace, Mercer County police departments and volunteers who serve on the Domestic Violence Victim Response Team.

Volunteers undergo 80 hours of training, which prepares them to help victims. The municipal police departments call on the Domestic Violence Victim Response Team to meet a victim at police headquarters to provide information and support at the time of the reported incident.

Mount, the honorary chair, said she has undergone training for the Domestic Violence Victim Response Team.

“I felt it was something we all could do. Reach out to our neighbors. Some of us are lucky enough not to need Womanspace. It’s not just the obvious bruise. There is lots more we have had to deal with. You have to remember the children. It is so critical the children have safe place to grow up,” she said.

Mount said she thinks that Dec. 3, when the luminary kits will be lighted, will be “a great night. People will learn a little bit more about the resources Womanspace offers.”

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