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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month— a grim, difficult, and yet incredibly important topic. One we may not like to think about— and yet a topic we ignore at our own peril. 

According to the New Jersey State Police’s 2020 Domestic Violence report

  • There were 63,058 domestic violence offenses reported by the police in 2020, a 6% increase compared to the 59,645 reported in 2019 
  • The most frequent day of the week for domestic violence incidents was Sunday (10,504), closely followed by Saturday (9,884) 
  • Children were actively involved or present during 14,930 incidents or 24% of all domestic violence incidents occurring in 2020 
  • The number of domestic violence complaints that had prior court orders issued against the offender increased from 10,761 in 2019 to 12,669 in 2020 
  • Alcohol and/or drugs were involved in 21 percent (13,092) of the reported offenses occurring in 2020 

What can we do to try to prevent, decrease and deescalate domestic violence incidents before they happen? 

  • Being aware the domestic violence incidents most frequently occur on weekend days and weekend nights, we can pay extra attention to whether you or your children may be in harm’s way on Saturday and Sunday. Whether that means spending the weekend at a relative’s or seeking counseling prior to the weekend, try to act preventively. 
  • Knowing that children where present for 24% of all domestic violence incidents, try to deescalate the tension and try your best not to fight in front of the children. 
  • The chances of a domestic violence complaint more likely to involve someone with a prior court order increased, so be extra attentive to this. Use the police or resources you may need. 
  • If you feel unsafe or in a dangerous situation, try not to keep alcohol or drugs in the house— that only increases the danger. Same thing with a gun. 

What to do if you need help: 

  • If a domestic violence incident occurs, contact your local police department. They are there to help and assist you. File a domestic violence complaint. 
  • If you’ve been abused, get out of the unsafe residence. This can be difficult, especially with kids, but see if there is a family member, a relative, a friend or a coworker willing to put you up for a few nights. 
  • Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at: (800) 799-7233, or text the word START to 88788. Or reach out to the New Jersey Statewide Domestic Violence Helpline at: (800) 572-7233 (SAFE). Talk with someone who cares. You are not alone. 
  • Consult with a New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyer. We are experienced, compassionate, and dedicated family lawyers whose job it is to help you move forward from this impossible time. You may work with your lawyer to get a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent your spouse, ex-spouse, partner, etc. from hurting and harming you or the children again. 
  • Exit plan: Work with a domestic violence center (a list of Domestic Violence Direct Services in New Jersey is here) to develop what is known as an ‘exit plan’: what to do and where to go if and when a domestic violence incident begins. That may include what to pack in a bag of essentials, how to have some cash and/or credit available, who to rely on, etc. 
  • Gather any documentation that may deal with the domestic violence. This could include photos, text messages, social media message and/or posts, emails, voicemail recordings, etc. Anything you feel your family lawyer may think can be useful. 

October is also, of course, Breast Cancer Awareness Month (another important topic) and Halloween, a fun time for children and families with pumpkin-carving, costumed parades and fall festivities. Let’s put an end to domestic violence so we can focus on staying healthy (be sure to stay up to date on mammograms!) and trick-or-treating (the fun stuff!).

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