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OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH How Safe+Sound Is Helping to End the Cycle of Abuse
I’ve often felt the desire to contribute more to my community through volunteering, but either life got in the way or I just couldn’t find the right cause. Recently, a friend told me about Safe+Sound Somerset, the only private, nonprofit agency in Somerset County providing comprehensive services to survivors of domestic abuse and their families. I’m fortunate to have never been exposed to domestic violence personally, but I’ve known others who have. Perhaps that’s why this organization resonated with me. When Safe+Sound Somerset was looking for volunteers to help plan its upcoming 40th Anniversary Gala, not only did this seem like a worthy cause, but it also sounded like a lot of fun. Through my work with Safe+Sound Somerset, I learned that each year, about 2,000 domestic violence offenses are reported to law enforcement in Somerset County. Countless others are victimized but don’t report the abuse, with 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experiencing some form of domestic abuse/ violence during their lifetime (CDC, 2010). These victims are more than just a statistic. They are our loved ones, neighbors, friends, and coworkers. Abusive relationships are coercive and involve dynamics where one partner holds power and control over the other, robbing the victim of their self-esteem. Domestic abuse takes many forms, including physical violence and verbal, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. Abusers use force, threats, intimidation, humiliation, isolation, blame, and guilt, and they shift responsibility for abusive behavior to the victim to exert power and control. Intimate partner violence and domestic abuse knows no racial, ethnic, gender, religious, or socioeconomic boundaries.
Safe+Sound Somerset’s mission is to empower survivors of domestic abuse and engage the community to end the cycle of violence. Established in 1978, Safe+Sound Somerset has continually expanded to offer a range of trauma-informed, evidence-based services designed to support and empower survivors while working toward ending domestic abuse once and for all. Services include a 24-hour call and text hotline, emergency safe house, legal advocacy, individual and group counseling for adult and child survivors of domestic abuse, financial literacy and empowerment services, transitional housing, training for allied professionals, and referrals for local batterers’ treatment services. In addition to direct client services, Safe+Sound Somerset is committed to its SPEAK Outreach and Violence Prevention Program, which is designed with three main focuses: prevention, intervention, and knowledge. Additionally, two 40-hour trainings are provided annually to volunteers who will have direct contact with Safe+Sound Somerset’s clients. All programs are provided at no cost to survivors, confidentially, in multiple locations throughout the county, and are available in English, Spanish, and other languages as needed. Recognizing the importance of its 40th anniversary, Safe+Sound Somerset will celebrate 40 years of healing and hope at Soaring to New Heights with Governor Christine Todd Whitman, honorary chair. The gala, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 1, at Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, will feature entertainment including a casino night, dancing, auction, and raffle. You can find information about this special event at Safe-Sound.org.
Another important event happens on Wednesday, Oct. 16. A candlelight vigil will be held at 7:00 p.m. on the steps of the United Reformed Church, 100 West Main Street, Somerville. Each year, the community comes together in support of the thousands of victims and survivors of domestic violence in Somerset County. At this annual event, Safe+Sound Somerset’s staff and volunteers will share courageous stories of survivors, and community leaders will discuss the ripple effects of domestic abuse in the community. The Somerville High School choir will perform, and attendees can participate in a candlelight procession honoring individuals who have lost their lives in domestic abuse-related incidents over the last four decades.
Safe+Sound’s 24-hour call and text hotline: 866-685-1122.
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