Domestic Violence Victim Response Team
East Windsor Township Police and Womanspace, Inc. have collaborated to increase the safety and decrease the isolation of domestic violence victims who live and work in East Windsor Township. The two agencies have recruited volunteers from the Mercer County community who form the County's first Domestic Violence Victim Response Team. According to East Windsor Police Chief William W. Spain [Ret.], " Domestic violence is not new to our community --- or to any community in our country. We are aware of recent U.S. Department of Justice statistics which indicate that violence by current or former partners of women is common and frequent, and is a major cause of serious injuries. We believe that many of these injuries are preventable, and that the way in which we as a law enforcement agency respond to abuse can make a difference for many families in our community. "
Womanspace has provided family violence prevention, education, training and emergency intervention services in Mercer County for the past twenty years. As the sole, lead agency serving victims of domestic violence, Womanspace has offered shelter from harm and provided advocacy and counseling services to more than 25,000 women and children, and responded to over 105,000 hotline calls from those in need of information or assistance. The agency also provides education, training and technical assistance to health care, court, law enforcement, school and social service personnel and religious, civic and community groups. Over 90,000 individuals to date have received information and skills from Womanspace presentations and publications, enabling the community at large to become directly involved in a coordinated effort to reduce abuse.
Executive Director Pat Hart, in announcing this joint initiative with Chief Spain [Ret.] and East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov, stated that " We recognize the importance of a coordinated community response to domestic violence. And this collaboration between our two agencies can ensure quality service delivery to a very important sector of our community - families who are experiencing crises of violence. Together, we can offer team members specialized training on the law, sensitivity to the needs of victims and their children, and a swift, safe, appropriate response to what can be a very dangerous situation. Neither of our agencies could do this alone, and we are excited about the possibilities for all of Mercer County.
The East Windsor Police Department interacts with domestic violence victims within the boundaries of the criminal justice and family court systems. The service provided to the victim is focused on immediate relief from the dangerous situation and the arrest and prosecution of the abuser. As Chief Spain [Ret.] points out, this role is important and significant to assist the victim by providing an opportunity to seek assistance and safety. However, the joining of forces with Womanspace allows the victims encountered by the police department a chance to speak with a trained volunteer and get information and support. "It is my hope that the information and support provided to our victims by the volunteers will allow them to make educated decisions on the often confusing and complicated systems. The primary objective of this program is to support them in coping with the emotional aspects of their victimization."