In 1989, Congress passed Public Law 101-112, officially designating October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Such legislation has been passed each subsequent year. Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the “Day of Unity” first held in October 1981 and was conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in domestic violence with many support services citing more than double the usual number of calls to police and hotlines. With many isolating at home to contain the spread of the coronavirus, victims of domestic violence are trapped with their abusers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 20 Americans experience intimate partner physical violence every minute. That totals around 120 million victims per year. Signs that you are experiencing abuse include your partner controlling you, controlling your money, keeping cash or credit cards away from you, or discouraging you from working. Another sign is your partner isolating you. Cutting you off from family and friends makes you even more dependent on your partner and could be a sign of abuse. Physical abuse by your partner is a serious crime regardless of your relationship status.
Like with COVID-19, the signs of domestic abuse are not always visible. During this unusual time, it is important that we check in with family members, friends and neighbors. To end domestic violence, we all need to be part of the solution. Educating yourself and others, helping a friend who is being abused, speaking up and being an engaged bystander, are all examples of things you can do to help. Talking about these issues openly can help end the shame and stigma felt by domestic violence survivors.
The Samost Jewish Family and Children’s Services Project SARAH (Stop Abusive Relationships at Home) gives compassionate and confidential assistance to women, men and children who have been affected by domestic violence or intimate partner abuse. SARAH offers mental health counseling, case management, legal resource referrals, guidance in finding safe shelter and emergency financial assistance. The counselors will connect you with financial assistance, legal counseling and court advocacy resources. Additionally, the staff will help guide you on how to develop a safety plan, obtain a restraining order and much more. For more information, visit ifcssnj.org/programs-and-services.
Anyone needing services should call (856) 424-1333 during normal business hours and ask for “SARAH,” the code word that lets our receptionist know an individual is calling for
domestic violence supportive services. All calls are strictly confidential. If you need a 24 hour crisis line, please call: Camden County – (856) 227-1234, Burlington County – (856) 234-8888
Toll Free – (800) 246-8910, Gloucester County – (856) 881-3335, National Domestic Violence Hotline – (800) 799-7233.