by State Representative Ben McGorty, (R)
122nd House District
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and recognizing the signs of an abusive or coercive relationship can potentially save a life.
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse.
If you recognize these signs in your own life or in someone you love, help is available: CT Safe Connect (www.ctsafeconnect.com) provides a 24/7 and completely anonymous helpline to connect you or a loved one with resources and support. Just call or text 888-774-2900.
The Center for Family Justice will host a regional Domestic Violence Awareness Month vigil on Thursday, Oct. 14th at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport to commemorate the 19 lives lost to domestic violence homicides in Connecticut last year as well as raise awareness about the programs and services the nonprofit offers victims.
This vigil will include area law enforcement representatives, elected officials, community leaders and youth groups from the communities of Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford, and Trumbull.
Each year, CFJ provides crisis and supportive services, as well as community education to more than 7,000 adults and children living in these communities.
CFJ invites anyone interested in supporting victims and survivors of domestic violence to gather at the iconic carousel on the Beardsley Zoo’s grounds at 6 p.m. on Oct. 14th for this always moving and inspiring vigil.
“While we gather to remember the lives lost to the tragedy of domestic violence, there is also something quite hopeful about our vigil,” said Debra A. Greenwood, President & CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “This event is also an opportunity to highlight the determination we have to end the domestic violence epidemic and create a brighter future for anyone impacted by the trauma of abuse.”
This year’s vigil comes at a critical time. Since the Covid-19 pandemic first impacted this region in March 2020, CFJ has witnessed a 25 percent increase in overall demand for services as well as an 18 percent increase in domestic violence cases. Demand for shelter for victims, which CFJ provides in a 15-bed safe house, has also increased exponentially. Whenever its safe house is at capacity, CFJ provides abuse victims temporary hotel shelter. Since the pandemic demand for overflow hotel shelter for victims has increased by 1400 percent.
“We are still dealing with the aftermath of these unprecedented increases in abuse,” said Greenwood. “Holding this vigil is so important because it helps us get the message out that we offer free, confidential services, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
CFJ is also addressing the increased demand for domestic violence services with its plans to open the Empower House, a new, expanded safe house for victims and their families. The nonprofit is in the midst of a $3.5 million fundraising campaign to help open the new facility in an effort to serve more victims and provide them with a safe, supportive environment to begin rebuilding their lives.
Current plans call for opening Empower House sometime in 2022.
The vigil is free and open to the public and is a rain or shine event. Light refreshments will be served.
In keeping with current CDC recommendations related to the Covid-19 pandemic, CFJ is requiring that masks be worn by all attendees at the program regardless of their vaccination status.
To learn more about the programs and services CFJ offers visit centerforfamilyjustice.org.