The Center for Family Justice, with the support of community leaders and law enforcement in the six communities it serves, has scheduled a series of seven vigils to mark the observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.
These vigils, which will take place at 6 p.m. beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the Bridgeport Police Department, will honor those who have been impacted by intimate partner violence; raise awareness and inspire hope that the cycles of violence can be broken. In a state that has experienced a total of 30 domestic violence-related homicides since Jan. 2017, these vigils also serve to remind local residents that domestic violence homicide is a problem in every demographic and community CFJ serves.
Each vigil will include a solemn reading of the names of the 18 people who lost their lives to domestic violence in Connecticut in 2017.
Debra A. Greenwood, CFJ’s President and CEO, will join police chiefs and community leaders in each town, to speak to their hope that the statistics on domestic violence improve with continued dedication to protecting victims and educating the public about prevention. At some vigils, a local survivor of domestic violence will also talk about her experiences and the help she received from CFJ.
“This past year has taught us that despite great progress in raising awareness, it is critical to be taking action in our communities to prevent intimate partner violence,” said Debra A. Greenwood President & CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “The number of domestic violence related homicides reported in our communities this year is a disturbing and unacceptable trend. So, our message this year is focused on taking action. We hope to educate people in the communities we serve on things they can do to help victims and survivors life safe, healthy lives free of trauma and abuse.”
In some cases, Greenwood noted, action steps can be simple, but profoundly meaningful.
Some of these action steps include:
- Learn the signs of domestic violence, which often are more subtle than cuts and bruises. Visit CFJ’s website, CenterforFamilyJustice.org to learn more.
- Believe someone who tells you they are experiencing abuse in their relationship –even if you have never witnessed it–and ask how you can help.
- Seek help and assistance. Call your local domestic hotline or police if you suspect someone in your life is experiencing abuse. CFJ’ domestic hotline number is 203-384-9559.
- Help victims with backup plans for example, storing emergency phones or overnight bags.
- Check-in regularly to determine his or her safety.
- Write things down. Document every violent or abusive incident you witness noting the date, time, location and specifics.
- Be a resource. Offer to do the legwork –for example calling the local domestic violence agency or and law enforcement–to help ease their stress.
Greenwood stressed that of particular concern this year is the number of domestic violence homicides which have taken place in the last two years in homes where children were present. Five of the 30 homicides which took place in Connecticut the six communities CFJ serves.
Greenwood noted the vigils also serve the purpose of allowing victims to know that at CFJ there is a safe place, close to home, where they can receive free and comprehensive services. These services include free counseling and emergency shelter. “Every year, I hear a story at a vigil from someone in attendance who feels compelled to come forward with their experiences with domestic violence because of the support they feel at our vigils,” Greenwood said. “That tells me how important it us for us to gather together to hold these events.”
The 2018 vigil schedule is as follows:
- Tuesday, October 2: Bridgeport Police Headquarters, Bridgeport
- Wednesday, October 3: Monroe Town Hall Gazebo
- Thursday, October 4: Trumbull Library
- Friday, October 5: University of Bridgeport Student Center.
- Monday, Oct. 10: Stratford Town Hall
- Tuesday, Oct. 11: Easton Community Center
- Wednesday, Oct. 12: Fairfield’s Town Hall.
The vigils begin at 6 p.m., are appropriate for all ages, and open to the public. Members of the press are welcome and encouraged to attend.
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR FAMILY JUSTICE
The Center for Family Justice Inc. (formerly The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County Inc.), brings all domestic, sexual and child abuse services – crisis intervention, police, prosecutors, civil/legal providers, counseling – under one roof, in our headquarters in Bridgeport, CT. Together, we work to break the cycle of violence by helping those in crisis restore their lives. Although our name has changed, we continue with the work we have provided for 12 decades, providing free, confidential, bilingual crisis services in Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull. It is the comprehensive services our partners are providing that are streamlining the road to healing and self-sufficiency.
Within the past year, The Center answered more than 1000 calls on a 24-hour crisis hotline; assisted with the civil and criminal court processes for more than 2,500 survivors of domestic violence; responded to more than 500 survivors of sexual assault and their families; provided a safe home for more than 100 women and children fleeing domestic abuse; coordinated the investigations of more than 170 cases of child sexual and severe physical abuse, developing service plans for the young survivors and their families; and provided psycho-educational support to more than 1,200 survivors of domestic violence, planning for their safety and promoting self-sufficiency.
As part of our mission, The Center educates approximately 4,000 members of the community about the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse to prevent future violence and spread the word that about the services we offer at The Center for Family Justice. Annually, we teach more than 2,000 children and teens about building healthy relationships, bullying prevention and dating violence.
For more information, visit www.CenterForFamilyJustice.org.