NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Several hundred community members attended the New Brunswick Domestic Violence Coalition’s (NBDVC) annual rally and march against domestic violence on Saturday, October 18.

The rally began at First Reformed Church on Bayard Street, where Rev. Susan Kramer Mills, who is also the executive director of Town Clock Community Development Corporation, gave tours of the permanent, supportive, and affordable apartments that are currently under construction inside the church.

After the event kicked off in downtown, advocates and survivors marched into the city’s Second Ward, chanting, holding signs and passing out information on domestic violence resources and services.

The march was led by the New Brunswick Police Domestic Violence Unit and Response Team.

Several organizations from the New Brunswick and Rutgers community were handing out resources to attendees such as: Middlesex County Center for Empowerment, New Jersey State Police Victim’s Services Unit, Middlesex County College, First Reformed Church, Town Clock Community Development Corporation, and Speak Out: Exploring Womanhood.

Laura Valencia, of Omega Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated, an organization who’s philanthropy is raising awareness about violence against women, was volunteering for the NBDVC, handing out free t-shirts in Spanish and English.

“This event today is very important to us because we feel like it’s an issue that is not publicized enough… This is really close to my heart because I know a close family member that went through it, so I just want to be here to support all of those other women who don’t have the courage or strength to speak out themselves,” said Valencia.

According the City of New Brunswick’s website , the New Brunswick Police’s Domestic Violence Unit and Response Team were established in 1997 and 2003 respectively, and were “created to assist victims of domestic violence who are often times traumatized, confused, uncertain, and/or reluctant to seek help, by decreasing the emotional trauma experienced by victims; increasing a victim’s ability to make educated decisions about their options; and by providing victims access to community resources.”

After returning to the church, there were a series of speakers who spoke on the issue of domestic violence, including Mayor James Cahill, Susan Higgins, a survivior of domestic violence, and poet, Victoria Vanable.

An interpreter translated into Spanish after every line that was said in English.

Mayor Cahill addressed the crowd on domestic violence, but his speech was generic and lacked specifics on how New Brunswick is addressing the issue of domestic violence.

Poet, Victoria Vanable, tells New Brunswick Today about her personal experience with domestic violence, from living in a household with domestic violence, to being an abuser herself for a short time.

“I support the purpose of no violence anywhere. [Violence] is not acceptable. To hit a child, or to hit a woman, or even a man, it really degrades the person. It brings them down. It needs to stop,” stated Vanable.

Vanable is now an advocate against domestic violence, supporting organizations like NBDVC and the Misty Dawn Foundation, an organization that was founded after the death of Misty Dawn, a woman who died in a domestic violence situation. 

Vanable was also one of the women who volunteered to dress up with wedding dresses and bruises on their faces to bring attention to the increase in violence that occurs around the time of getting married, and to the death of Glady, a woman murdered by her an abusive ex-boyfriend on her wedding day.

“Don’t be silent. If you know domestic violence is going on, say something because it can make a life or death difference. Domestic violence cannot be tolerated,” said Toni Gingerelli, a volunteer from Douglass Residential College who dressed up as a bride.

The New Jersey State Police Victim’s Services Unit distributed hotline numbers for every county in the state, and resources on power and control, and equality that were produced by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The power and control wheel is a diagram that helps illustrate the overall pattern of abusive and violent behavior, which the abuser uses to maintain control over his or her partner.

Pieces of the wheel include intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, economic abuse, and male privilege.

The equality wheel illustrates ways to perpetuate non-violence such as: negotiation and fairness, respect, honest and accountability, responsible parenting, and economic partnership.

People who are in need of intimate partner violence resources or services can contact the New Jersey Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-572-SAFE, Women Aware, Inc. for Middlesex County at 732-249-4504, or Middlesex County Center for Empowerment at 732-321-1189.

For Rutgers students, services and resources are offered at the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance who can be reached at 848-932-1181.

All emergencies should be reported to New Brunswick Police by dialing 9-1-1.