Community News – Spotlight
This section shines a light on survivors, partners and programs actively working to end domestic violence in New Jersey.
Community News Feature
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2015
New Jersey Expands Access to Restraining Orders
for Survivors of Sexual Assault
Trenton, NJ – The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) applauds the passing of the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015 (A4078/S2686), which will expand the availability of restraining orders to a greater number of sexual assault survivors.
Current New Jersey law prohibits approximately 80% of sexual assault survivors from applying for the protections afforded by restraining orders. “This legislation addresses that gap, and is a compliment to New Jersey’s portfolio of strong, survivor-centered laws and policies,” said Patricia Teffenhart, Executive Director of NJCASA.
“The creation and passing of this legislation is a representation of Trenton at its best. This bill advanced thanks to the tenacious leadership of Assemblywoman Vainierie Huttle, and Senators Beck and Pou, who worked with us to craft this legislation with the invaluable input of the Attorney General’s Office, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the expertise of sexual violence advocates from across the State. Today, Governor Christie made a bold statement by signing this legislation into law. It’s a tremendous day for survivors and advocates,” said Teffenhart.
Statistics indicate that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime, with 75-80% of those survivors knowing their perpetrators. As the national discourse around the impact and prevalence of sexual violence increases, so has the understanding of the needs of sexual assault survivors and the complex ways in which lives are impacted by this trauma.
With the passing of this legislation, New Jersey now joins over two dozen other states that offer similar protections for survivors. The Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015 includes a six-month enactment clause, meaning expanded access to restraining orders will be available in May 2016.
ABOUT NJCASA: NJCASA (www.njcasa.org) is the statewide advocacy and capacity building organization that represents the twenty-one county-based rape crisis centers, and the Rutgers University Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance. NJCASA elevates the voice of sexual violence survivors and service providers by advocating for survivor-centered legislation, training allied professionals, and supporting statewide prevention strategies that work to address and defy the socio-cultural norms that permit and promote rape culture.
For additional information, contact Executive Director Patricia Teffenhart at email@example.com.
J.B.W.S. – No2DatingAbuse
In the classrooms, on the athletic fields, and on their campuses, teens and college students in Morris County are saying No2DatingAbuse. The No2DatingAbuse program, sponsored by the Jersey Battered Women’s Service (JBWS) reached nearly 8,000 students with its important prevention message in 2015.
The No2DatingAbuse classroom presentations alert students to the many warning signs of abuse and the help resources available to them. The program, however, stretches beyond the classroom to engage students in leadership and action. The program name and logo, for example, were created by students and work well the program’s social media presence.
As domestic violence incidents continue to pervade the world of professional sports, No2DatingAbuse launched its Yellow Card Campaign, a program that reaches out to high school and college athletes with a proactive message that encourages them to use their status to become leaders in preventing dating abuse in their communities. At the end of the workshop, athletes receive Yellow Card t-shirts, sign a large pledge poster for display at their school, and are committed to: Take A Stand against dating abuse; Model healthy relationships; and Promote a culture of safety & respect.
“No one can argue that dating and relationship violence is a major adolescent health issue,” says Stu Mason, Roxbury High School Athletic Director. “The Yellow Card program made a positive impact on our school community!”
Though estimates of dating violence vary, one study funded by the National Institute of Justice found the following results from a sample of middle and high schools in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania:
- 33% of students responding reported experiencing psychological dating abuse
- 18% reported experiencing cyber dating abuse
- 21% reported experiencing physical dating violence
- 9% reported experiencing sexual coercion
These numbers are unacceptable.
In observation of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month this February, No2DatingAbuse will sponsor its 4th annual school-based leadership conference with teen representatives from high schools in Morris County. Students will see a dramatic play presented by Deana’s Educational Theater. “Yellow Dress” is the story of a young woman who warmly tells us of her relationship that begins as young love, full of passion and promise — and ends in tragedy. Throughout the remainder of the day, students are engaged in interactive workshops culminating in the creation of a public service message that can be shared with their schools.
No2DatingAbuse program reaches teens and young adults at an important and vulnerable time in their lives and teaches them not just how to make the right choices in their own relationships, but how to promote healthy behavior in their peers.
The Jersey Battered Women’s Service (JBWS) is a full-service domestic violence abuse prevention agency based in Morris County, N.J.
Rescue and Restore (October 2015)
Rutgers University School of Social Work
Rutgers University has long been an active partner in the movement to prevent dating violence in NJ. The university has a one-of-its kind Center on Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC). Created in the Spring of 2007, VAWC exemplifies the land grant mission of Rutgers by engaging community partners from the academic, corporate, nonprofit, and government sectors to collaborate on different projects. The three components of the center’s work include research, MSW Certificate Program, and community engagement.
NJCEDV, through the NJ Domestic Violence Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board (www.nj.gov/dcf/providers/boards/dvfnfrb/) collaborated with VAWC and the Rutgers University School of Social Work (vawc.rutgers.edu) to compile the dating violence materials you’ll find by clicking the link below to our dating violence center.
They have been distributed to schools as a way of raising awareness and the mission is to distribute them to as many schools as possible. Toward that goal, please download and share them with the youth in your life.
We can prevent dating violence together.Click to Learn & Get the Facts
NJ Health Cares About Domestic Violence Collaborative (October 2015)
Jenna’s Story: Broken Boundaries & Trust (as told to J.B.W.S.)
Jenna has been with Allison for eight months. She doesn’t want anyone to know about their relationship, especially her parents. To everyone, they look like best friends. At the beginning, Allison was so caring and sweet. But eventually she started getting jealous. Allison tells Jenna she can’t hang out with other girls unless she is there, too. Jenna hardly sees her friends anymore. When Jenna asked Allison to trust her more and let her spend more time with her friends, Allison got really mad. She started screaming at Jenna, telling her that if she talked back to her ever again, she would tell the whole school and Jenna’s parents that she was a lesbian. Allison said everyone would hate Jenna if they knew. Jenna doesn’t want to break up with Allison; she just wants her to trust her more so she can spend time with her friends. She’s really scared Allison is going to reveal the truth about her and doesn’t know what to do.
A Bit On Boundaries:
It can seem like someone is really into you when they want to be with you all the time; in the beginning, it’s normal to have feelings of butterflies and you may feel like you want to be together all the time. Eventually, that period fades in most healthy relationships. But it can signal abuse when a person is extremely jealous, keeps you from friends and threatens you if you don’t comply. Everyone deserves to have a voice in their relationship and if you feel scared to speak, it’s a sign that healthy, personal boundaries are being crossed and you’re in an abusive relationship. If this is the case, it’s important to understand dating violence and how to get help when you need it, because while you may love the person, their behavior is unlikely to change and could get worse.
What can we do as parents and friends to help?
Talk to teens in your life and let them know what we’ve shared in a non-judgemental way. It’s important to continue the conversation, which could help them learn steps they can take whether it’s getting help from a counselor at school, joining a support group, or reaching out to a domestic violence agency. In NJ, there are statewide services available to all victims, including teens. You can find more information on the programs in our Get Help section and by calling the statewide hotline 24 hours a day, every day. (1-800-572-7233)
J.B.W.S counselors specialize in working with teens and young adults and can provide help over the phone and in private sessions at a school or confidential location. The services are free and confidential, too. Counselors can be reached by calling the J.B.W.S. 24-hour helpline (973-267-4763).
Elizabeth Paddy (October 2015)
Do you have a program, partner, bystander or survivor story to share?
Let us know and we can feature them here! Acceptable formats include 500-800 word text narrative, digital video or photo story.
Our goal is to illustrate the scope of the work being done to end domestic violence in New Jersey. We’ll share the stories on our website, our monthly e-newsletter, and on social media.