For NJ’s Domestic Violence Centers, Reaching the Community is Key
Years ago, violent domestic attacks and sexual assaults were taboo beyond the doors of victims' homes. That's not the case anymore, and New Jersey is working to bring these victims forward -- if not publicly, then to one of several safe havens across the state, where confidentiality and support help give the victims a voice.
"What we have found is that every point of contact reduces the risk of recidivism," said Jill Zinckgraf, executive director of the Domestic Abuse & Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Warren County. The group's mission is to support and empower those affected by domestic violence, and foster communities with no tolerance for these incidents.
While DASACC and organizations like it may not be able to provide legal counsel to those in danger, they do give abuse and assault victims the chance to meet with advocates to discuss their options.
Also, Zinckgraf said each of New Jersey's 21 counties has its own hotline and temporary shelter for victims of domestic violence, and counties often coordinate with one another to house potential victims.
"If a woman in Bergen County is not safe to stay in Bergen County, and/or that shelter is full, then that county is responsible for advocating out," she said as an example. "We would never turn anyone away who is appropriate for shelter. We would not stop calling and advocating out until we figured it out."
That connection between counties is important, but so is the link between a shelter and the area it serves. On Friday night, DASACC will sponsor a line-dancing fundraiser, to promote awareness of the organization's cause in the community. The event features an all-you-can-eat barbecue, mechanical bull, and open bar.
"When we look at the trend in fundraising, the reality is that nobody wants to sit at a table and eat industrial, prepared chicken and hear speech after speech after speech," Zinckgraf said.
DASACC's second annual "Don't Cross the Line Shindig" is set for Friday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m., at the Centenary Equestrian Center, 12-56 Califon Road, Long Valley. Tickets are available at dasacc.org.
New Jersey offers two 24-hour hotlines for domestic abuse victims. The statewide domestic violence hotline is 1-800-572-SAFE, and the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault hotline is 1-800-601-7200.