TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Barbara Buono and Fred H. Madden that would establish a State domestic violence public awareness program was unanimously approved today by the full Senate.
“Education is the first step to empowering women to fight back against abuse,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “We will show them how to seek help if they are victims of domestic violence – how to seek out counseling and remove themselves from a hostile home environment. This campaign will get women the resources they need to begin the healing process and return to healthier, more normal lives.”
The Senators’ measure, S-2380, would establish a domestic violence public awareness campaign. The bill would direct the Director of the Department of Community Affairs’ Division on Women to consult with the Advisory Council on Domestic Violence and the Commissioners of Human Services and Health and Senior Services to organize the program.
The campaign would address the causes and nature of domestic violence victims and abusers, as well as risk factors and various preventative measures. The program would also include information on the availability of local counseling, shelter, legal advocacy and legal assistance services. The information would also have to be available in both English and Spanish on the Division on Women website.
The Director of the Division on Women would be required to coordinate the program with other domestic violence activities done by other State agencies, prepare and distribute written information, organize all grant monies. The director would also be responsible for reporting to the Governor and the Legislature on the program’s activities and accomplishments no later than 18 months after the bills effective date.
Currently, there is no State program designed specifically to provide public awareness on the issue of domestic violence. The State’s last comprehensive public relations campaign, “Break the Cycle, End the Silence,” took place in the 1980’s.
“According to the American Medical Association each year at least 4 million women suffer attacks at the hands of boyfriends or husbands,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “Domestic abuse is even more traumatic and overwhelming for victims because many of them have daily contact with their abusers who hold positions of trust and intimacy in the victims’ lives. This measure will help make victims of domestic violence aware of the options they have concerning counseling, shelter and legal assistance, and help work to end the cycle of abuse that often seems insurmountable to its victims.”
This measure was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on May 23. It now heads to the Governor’s desk, where his signature would make it State law.