Western New Jersey

NJSP forms volunteer domestic violence response teams

NJSP forms volunteer domestic violence response teams

WASHINGTON, N.J. - Domestic violence affects thousands of families nationwide.

Most cases go unreported.

"Statistics go anywhere from every nine seconds a domestic assault occurs to every 15 seconds. I think both sound like a lot," said Jill Zinckgraf, Executive Director of the Warren County Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Crisis Center.

The Warren County Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Crisis Center works with victims of domestic violence.

It also trains volunteer advocates, known as 'domestic violence response teams.'

The volunteers are called to police stations after domestic abuse 911 calls to tell victims about resources available to them.

"Most of it is really referring them back to resources that might be useful, especially our counseling or groups here. And safety planning. It's really about safety planning," said Erin Hodgson, Community Organizer at the Warren County Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Crisis Center.

Studies show that victims are more likely to return to their abusers if they don't have a strong support system.

"Women go back because they think there are no options," Zinckgraf said.

Domestic violence response teams were established in New Jersey nearly 15 years ago.

Experts believe the program has kept victims from going back to their abusers, but right now there aren't enough volunteers.

"Right now we are operating with only a handful of volunteers. To turn a program for a county this size, we really need 50 to 100," Hodgson said.

New Jersey State Police are looking for more volunteer advocates to join the program in Warren, Burlington and Atlantic counties.

"We are looking for volunteers who are compassionate, patient people who are interested in working in this field," Hodgson said.

Candidates must complete a 40-hour training course, have a valid drivers license, and be willing to work on call.

A background check and fingerprinting is also required.

For more information on how to become a volunteer visit here: http://www.njcbw.org/dvTeam.html

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