MORRISTOWN, NJ (Morris County) – The Morris County Board of County Commissioners observed October 2023 as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” and presented a framed proclamation to JBWS President and CEO Diane Williams during this week’s work session meeting.
“Every October, Morris County observes Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And every year, sadly we need to acknowledge that domestic violence continues to be a widespread issue. While the pandemic certainly heightened an environment for domestic abuse to occur, we can’t ignore the factors that encourage its prevalence today,” said Commissioner Director Krickus.
“In 2022, JBWS answered 4,532 helpline calls. Financial stressors across the nation play into this, as well as mental health issues. The isolation victims experience continues to hide the issue such that cases are often underreported. And it’s hidden in that abusers and victims aren’t always obvious. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, and it ruins lives for all families involved,” he continued.
Morris County has a longstanding relationship with JBWS, which first opened its shelter doors to the community in late December 1978. Today, the agency has grown into a full-service, private, nonprofit domestic violence agency with programs that provide safety, support and solutions for all survivors of abuse.
In 2016, JBWS founded the Morris Family Justice Center in partnership with the county’s Department of Human Services, Prosecutor’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Superior Court, Legal Services of Northwest Jersey, the Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs, Morris County Bar Foundation and Morris CARES. The walk-in center on the 4th floor of the Admin and Records building provides a safer, more seamless response for families and people fleeing or seeking relief from abuse, giving them one place for counseling, protection, legal and immigration assistance, child services and more.
This unique integration of supports doesn’t exist everywhere– Morris County’s center is only one of two in New Jersey. The model for the Family Justice Center is recognized as a best practice in the field of domestic violence by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In 2022, 470 adults and children received comprehensive services from multiple agencies within the Center, a statistic that has significantly increased in 2023. In just the first nine months of this year, 747 individuals have required the same level of assistance.
“It really speaks to the need in our shelter. From 2021 to 2023, we saw an 85% increase in the number of victims that needed shelter in Morris County. We have an incredible relationship with the county and the Commissioners, and it’s really the community that benefits from that. We are so grateful to have the Morris Family Justice Center, because 747 individuals wouldn’t have had a place to go for help,” said Williams.
If you are a victim or survivor of dating, domestic or partner abuse seeking support, contact 24-Hour Helpline & Referral: 1.877.R.U.ABUSED or 1-877-782-2873
The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers the option to chat or text with an advocate. Click “Chat Now” on the website or text LOVEIS to 22522.
For more information about the Morris Family Justice Center, visit morrisfjc.org.