MODERN MUZE MASTERY x WOMEN AWARE | DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS AND CHILDREN DURING HOME ISOLATION
With reports of domestic violence rates soaring worldwide, and realizing that many victims are forced to be at home with their abusers during Stay At Home orders, MODERN MUZE reached out to Maliha Janjua, Director of Client Services, and Susan Dyckman, Development Director at Domestic Violence Agency Women Aware to ask questions on how victims are able to access support during this time.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call:
WOMEN AWARE HOTLINE (MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY): 732-249-4504
WOMEN AWARE TOLL-FREE HOTLINE (MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY): 833-249-4504
NJ STATEWIDE HOTLINE: 800-572-7233
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: 1-800-799-7233
ZULAY: Tell us about Women Aware, what is it, and what are the services you are offering victims of domestic violence?
MALIHA: Woman Aware is a local domestic violence agency in Middlesex County in New Jersey. All services that we provide are free and confidential. We have a 24-hour hotline, 7 days a week, with a live person ready to speak with anyone calling in. Callers call from around the United States and if they are not from Middlesex we will provide them with information on the best contact.
In addition to the 24-hour hotline, we have a safe house program. Our safe house is in a confidential location in Middlesex County where we provide emergency safe housing for survivors of domestic violence and their children. It is a home environment, where survivors are safe, and they are assigned a caseworker that will work with them, provide them with resources, and set proactive goals for their future.
ZULAY: Why does a victim stay in an abusive relationship?
MALIHA: That is the million-dollar question that everyone asks, but to me, the question is more "why is the perpetrator abusing their partner?" Domestic violence is a pattern of control and it does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone and we service survivors from all walks of life. Domestic Violence can be verbal, emotional, psychological abuse, gaslighting, putting someone down, even using the children. Many people we work with stay in abusive relationships to protect their children and many victims are afraid to ask for help and have lost their support system.
JULIE: What are you seeing in terms of the rate of domestic violence during home isolation due to stay at home orders?
MALIHA: We have actually seen a drop. We average about 600 calls a month and this past month we had a drop in calls to 305. For me, I believe it is because victims are at home isolated with their abusers and they don't have a safe moment to call us. I do expect, and I am preparing my staff, that once this stay at home order is lifted, our hotline and services are going to skyrocket.
ZULAY: What advice can we give anyone who is isolated with their abuser or knows someone who is?
MALIHA: First, it is important that they know that they have access to these services, that there is someone there to assist them, and that they can get help. If you suspect that there is domestic violence going on with a friend, understand that they might not be openly able to talk about it and their calls may be being screened right now making it difficult to reach out. Some clients come up with a safe word with their family members to alert them when to call for support. A lot of our hotline callers are family and friends calling in and we can give advice on how to be most supportive.
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