October is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Now, North Bergen is the first town to bring the cause home to Hudson County.
At the most recent Board of Commissioners meeting, officials passed a proclamation, which they awarded to Luz Fontanez, a domestic violence liaison from WomenRising.
WomenRising is the only Hudson County organization that provides shelter specifically for victims of domestic violence. WomenRising also assists women and their families with counseling, legal services, and employment assistance.
Fontanez said she was happy to receive the award on behalf of the organization, which is now in its 114th year of operation.
Police Chief Robert Dowd said that the organization is a valuable partner to the North Bergen Police Department.
“WomenRising is a phenomenal group, and well deserving of being honored,” he said. “They’re part of our domestic violence response team. The New Jersey Attorney General directed every police department in the state to offer counseling to any victim of domestic violence at any time. Women Rising will pick up the phone for us in the middle of the night. I’ve known them as partners to this department for at least 20 years. When police in this state started taking on serious domestic violence programs in this state, they were already on the cutting edge, and were leading the way.”
Statistics tell a grim tale
The proclamation cites statistics echoed by the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, which show the ubiquity of domestic violence, and abuse as a whole, which highlight the need for action.
In the United States, one in three women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime, one in four women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, one in six men have had abusive or unwanted sexual experiences in their lifetimes, and approximately 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year.
Township departments plan to get information out that will help connect people to resources pertaining to domestic violence prevention, or how to reach a safe place away from an abuser. They’ll do so with a series of public awareness events. The schedule was not available by press time.
North Bergen Public Library Director Sai Rao said that she will be working in conjunction with WomenRising to get more information out to the public.
There will be an information table set up at the North Bergen Free Public Library’s job fair on Oct. 16 from noon to 4 p.m. It will be held at the uptown location, 8411 Bergenline Ave.
A guest speaker from WomenRising will come to both branches of the library to discuss domestic violence and promote awareness and resources for survivors and victims. The first presentation will be on Oct. 23 at the uptown location at 6 p.m. The second presentation will be held at the Kennedy Branch, 2123 John F. Kennedy Blvd. on Oct. 24 at 4 p.m.
WomenRising will assist in the special training of newly-recruited law enforcement officers in domestic violence issues during the month.
The Police Department will wrap one of its cars in purple as a highly visible of symbol of the newly-declared commemorative month.
The car will be seen at a rally against domestic violence held in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department. The time and location has yet to be determined. This story will be updated once the event is officially announced.