“Too often, people experiencing domestic violence will drop off the path to safety because the process feels too complicated and overwhelming,” explains Robin Hughes, manager of JBWS’ Crisis Response Team (CRT).
To reduce these barriers to safety, the JBWS-led Morris Family Justice Center (MFJC) brought together its community partners for the Resources for Hope event. It highlighted the challenges of navigating domestic violence and the breadth of services available to help by providing an immersive experience. Each attendee was assigned a paper with a survivor’s unique story when they walked into the event. They were then tasked with repeating the survivor’s journey to safety by visiting numerous tables representative of the services that survivors utilized.
“Walking in a survivor’s shoes like this develops empathy for people experiencing abuse,” explains Juli Harpell-Elam, director of abuse prevention. “It demonstrates the struggle of not knowing where to go and not having any answers.”
While seeking services can be daunting, this event hopes to alleviate feelings of isolation for people going through the process.
“People do not need to figure this out by themselves, they have people, organizations and services who can help them,” says Maria says Maria Lagattuta, director of the MFC and co-organizer of the Resources for Hope event. “That’s why it’s important for our community partners and the public to understand how the MFJC and JBWS support victims and survivors.”
Attendees were able to learn about legal, housing, safety, and supportive services by visiting tables staffed by the Morris Family Justice Center, the Morris County Sexual Assault Center, the Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs (MCOHA), the Prosecutor’s Office, the Sherriff’s Department, the Legal Services of Northwest New Jersey, and JBWS’ 24-Hour Helpline, Crisis Response Team (CRT), Emergency Safe House, Jersey Center for Non-Violence, Legal Advocacy Services, Rapid Rehousing program, Transitional Living Program, and supportive counseling groups.
“Morris County has a wealth of resources and sometimes the hardest thing is knowing all of them exist. The Resources for Hope event shows the depth of what we do to community members and community providers,” says Diane Williams, President and CEO of JBWS. “By making more people in the community aware of services, then more survivors are going to be connected to those services.”