Women Aware Continues to Take Women Beyond Abuse

For more than 40 years, Women Aware has been a beacon of hope for women victims of domestic violence. The state-designated Middlesex County domestic violence agency Women Aware moves around 2,000 survivors beyond abuse each year, said Susan M. Dyckman, director of development.

Where barriers between victims and services have increased in the wake of the pandemic, Women Aware has broken them down and will continue to do so, said Phyllis Yonta, Executive Director of Women Aware.

In response to the urgent need for emergency shelter in 2021, Women Aware implemented a hotel placement program, increasing the capacity of their secure home by 24 beds. Between the refuge and the hotel placement, the capacity increased by 159%.

“During the pandemic, stay-at-home orders created an exceptionally dangerous situation for victims of domestic violence forced to isolate themselves in their homes with an abuser,” Yonta said. “The support from the community has supported our team even through the most difficult days, and I am deeply grateful.”

Founded in the 1970s, Women Aware started out by providing hosting services. When it was incorporated in 1981, the non-profit organization began to offer additional services. Today, the organization provides shelter as well as legal advocacy, counseling, community outreach, supportive housing, child welfare liaison, community education and a creative art therapy program for children.

Fund for needy cases 2021:How to help your neighbors in need this holiday season

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Women Aware continued to operate the only 24-hour domestic violence emergency shelter in the state’s second largest county, Dyckman said. Cross-trained customer service staff from all programs provided essential assistance to ensure uninterrupted service.

“Our trained and trauma-informed professional staff are experts at serving survivors, but it takes a whole community to save lives,” said Dyckman. “We are grateful to our partner agencies, corporate partners, funders and individual Middlesex County supporters who are committed to helping survivors and families beyond the abuse.”

In 2020, Women Aware answered 6,394 phone calls and served 185 women and children in shelters and hotels. This represents a total of 7,699 shelter nights and 30,808 USDA approved meals in the shelter, Dyckman said.

Additionally, Women Aware has supported the safe relocation of 98% of their shelter clients and helped 104 victims of crime find safe and affordable housing options, and over 500 people through their home navigation program. lodging.

Members of the Women Aware's Highland Park Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT) raise awareness during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  The state-designated domestic violence agency for Middlesex County, Women Aware, moves around 2,000 survivors beyond abuse each year.

Through its legal advocacy program, Women Aware served 825 clients and 51 children were enrolled in the Peace: A Learned Solution (PALS) trauma reduction therapy program.

Recently, Women Aware received a $ 1 million grant from the US Department of Justice Office for Violence Against Women. The “unprecedented” grant provides funding for the Middlesex County Family Justice Center, the first of its kind in the county and only the fifth in the state, Dyckman said.

The goal of the Family Justice Center is to reduce domestic violence-related homicides and increase the safety and privacy of domestic violence survivors and their children in collaboration with co-located victim service agencies. The FJC will help survivors and their families get the resources and support they need in one place. The FJC is open at 100, rue Bayard, fourth floor.

“Moving survivors past the abuse is a community effort,” Yonta said. “Women Aware is grateful for the commitment of our county partners to better serve survivors. By working collaboratively, in one space, under the umbrella of the Family Justice Center, our goal is to radically improve the safety of the family as well as the responsibility of offenders. “

Participants at the May 2021 strategic planning conference are adding to the wall of hopes and dreams for the Women-led Family Justice Center in Middlesex County.  The state-designated domestic violence agency for Middlesex County, Women Aware, moves around 2,000 survivors beyond abuse each year.

Again, due to the pandemic, the annual holiday giveaway program will be made up of gift cards only. By donating funds for gift cards, survivors are allowed to shop independently and purchase the gifts on their children’s wish lists. Thanks to the community, in 2020, Women Aware distributed nearly $ 14,000 in gift cards, serving 268 people – 95 families and 173 children.

“We intend to make this the best vacation possible for all of our guests,” said Dyckman.

For more information on Women Aware, visit womenaware.net or call the free 24-hour hotline at 732-249-4504 or toll-free at 833-249-4504. If it is too dangerous for a victim to contact directly, a trusted family member or friend can call the hotline. The statewide hotline is also available at 800-572-SAFE (7233). To donate directly to Women Aware and its gift card program, go online at womenaware.net/donate.

How to support the Needy Cases Fund

From November 28 to December 5, the Courier News, Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com are focusing on 11 organizations serving central Jersey as part of the annual Needy Cases Fund.

The Needy Cases Fund has a Central Jersey holiday tradition stretching back over seven decades. The community service project was sponsored by the Home News Tribune and its predecessor, the Daily Home News, in conjunction with the New Brunswick Lions Club. In 2021, the Courier News will again join the Home News Tribune to sponsor the association.

Send your donations (checks payable to the Needy Cases Fund or cash) to: Needy Cases Fund, Home News Tribune / Courier News, 92 E. Main St., Suite 202, Somerville, NJ 08876. Please do not send checks payable to the Courier News Wish Book program this year. Please indicate with a note if you wish to be recognized in a summary story on the program, or if you wish to remain anonymous.

Donations will be gratefully accepted until the end of December.

For questions, contact Carolyn Sampson at 908-243-6624 or [email protected]

Email: [email protected]

Cheryl Makin is an award-winning reporting and education reporter for MyCentralJersey.com, which is part of the USA Today Network. Contact: [email protected] or @CherylMakin.

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