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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Based in New Brunswick, Women Aware is a valuable resource for those affected by domestic violence and abuse.

Recently, the organization celebrated their 40th anniversary, at a time when their work is more important than ever.

In the last year Women Aware has assisted over 1,100 individuals, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing about increased concern for domestic violence survivors.

“Even in a pandemic we want to make sure our community can be safer,” said Susan Dyckman, Director of Women Aware.

Women Aware provides emergency shelter for individuals and children fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking in a confidential location.

Affordable housing assistance is also available through their Permanent Supportive Housing Program.

Several services dedicated to providing advocacy to victims are also available, including legal advocacy program, domestic violence liaisons and domestic violence response teams.

They offer support groups for families and individuals, regardless of gender, in English and Spanish.

DeLisa Gonzalez, a member of the group’s legal team, said she has seen first hand the impact their supportive services have had for individuals who have experienced domestic violence.

“I saw what a difference it made for the survivor to have that support in such a traumatic and stressful environment such as the courthouse,” said Gonzalez on an episode of the new podcast, “Women Aware Speaks.”

“Anywhere from start to finish we can provide them information and referrals,” she added.

These include lawyer referrals, court preparations and accompaniments, and assistance with applying for restraining orders and safety planning.

”What we hear the most from our victims is that its very difficult to take the first step. They may not feel that they will be believed or that the abuse will escalate. That first step can be very difficult and we welcome victims to request an advocate to be there at the beginning as well, even before the court proceedings, so that they can feel supported.”

Domestic violence survivor Gina Ann Juliano Ickes says she Women Aware was able to help her: “ In 2012, I went through the program and it really changed my life for the better. I will hopefully be sending a friend in my church who is in need of some help. So glad I was apart of your program.”

The Women Aware Speaks podcast is available free to the public online through various podcasting platforms.

Women Aware’s hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide safety planning, crisis intervention and community resources at (732) 249-4504 or (833) 249-4504. On-site staff speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Urdu, Hindi, German and Italian, and hundreds of other languages can be translated in the moment if needed.

More information is available at the organization’s website, WomenAware.net.

Reporter at New Brunswick Today

Lisa Pollitt is a graduate of Monmouth University with a B.A. in Mass Communications.  She is a licensed NJ skin care specialist and makeup artist.  Her hobbies include freelance makeup artistry, writing and photography.