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Women Aware

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Remembering Giorgina Cimino Nigro

1 Year Later

One year after her murder, Giorgina Cimino Nigro’s family continues to wait for justice. Women Aware’s Executive Director recently spoke out about Giorgina’s case and her ex-husband’s record of domestic abuse. A July 17th news article reads:

“Phyllis Adams, executive director of Women Aware, a New Brunswick-based domestic violence organization, said Cimino Nigro was remembered during the organization’s 35th anniversary last October.

‘I’ve seen too many of these,’ said Adams, who has worked to fight domestic violence for more than 20 years. While she had hoped things would get better over the years, she finds the cases are getting more violent.

She added that it is not unusual for a murder case to take a couple of years to get to trial.”

Our thoughts are with Giorgina’s children and other family members as they continue to grieve and await justice. Giorgina’s ex-husband has been charged with her murder, and the case is expected to be presented to Middlesex County grand jury later this month.

To read more about the case:  http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/crime/jersey-mayhem/2016/07/17/year-later-justice-sought-giorgina-cimino-nigro/86516964/ 

Connecting Domestic Violence and Mass Shootings: Orlando gunman’s history of DV

Interview with Soraya Chemaly discussing DV and Mass Shooting, June 14, 2016

In what has become the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Omar Mateen shot dead 49 people last Sunday morning. Moments before, these individuals had been dancing in celebration of Gay Pride Month and Latin Night at a historic nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

My stomach sank as I heard the horrific news, and a predictable question flashed in my mind: could we have stopped him earlier? News outlets reported that Mateen had no previous record of hate crimes. But that depends on how you define a hate crime, according to journalist Soraya Chemaly. Mateen had a history of beating, controlling, and abusing his then wife.

In her most recent article for Rolling Stone Magazine titled “In Orlando, as Usual, Domestic Violence Was Ignored Red Flag,” Chemaly lays out the connections between domestic violence and mass shootings. Between 2009 and 2012, 40% of mass shootings started with the shooter targeting his girlfriend, wife, or ex-wife.[2] Last year alone, nearly one-third of mass shooting deaths were related in some way to domestic violence.[3]

Years earlier Omar Mateen’s then wife Sitora Yusifiy stood on the frontlines of his violence. In a news conference following Sunday’s mass shooting, Yusifiy described how Mateen brutally beat her and held her hostage until her family came to take her away. As many of us have long known (and come to know in unfortunate ways), the division between public and private violence is a false one.

Chemaly writes:

“Intimate partner violence and the toxic masculinity that fuels it are the canaries in the coal mine for understanding public terror, and yet this connection continues largely to be ignored, to everyone’s endangerment. It is essential to understand religious extremism (of all stripes), racism, homophobia, mental illness and gun use, but all of these factors are on ugly quotidian display in one place before all others: at home. If experts in countering violent extremism are looking for an obvious precursor to public massacres, this is where they should focus their attentions.”

The idea of domestic violence as a private affair that should be dealt with quietly, without social or institutional support, remains a dangerous but entrenched idea in many of our communities. Women Aware encourages anyone experiencing domestic violence to reach out for support. As Chemaly concludes:

“It does not take intensive analysis or complicated transnational databases to conclude that men who feel entitled to act violently, with impunity, against those they care for will, in all probability, feel greater entitlement to act violently toward those they hate or are scared of.The sooner we start recognizing this fact, the safer not just women, but all of us, will become.”


Signing off in hope and peace,

Katie Orlemanski, Women Aware Staff


We’re here for you, 24/7. Call our hotline: 732-249-4504

Help us end domestic violence now by donating today at: womenaware.net/donate


Candlelight Vigil

OCTOBER 6TH, 2016 | 7:00- 8:00 PM
MONUMENT SQUARE PARK, NEW BRUNSWICK

Join us in honor of all those who have been impacted by domestic violence. Women Aware will host our Annual Candlelight Vigil for Domestic Violence Awareness on October 6th, 2016 at Monument Square Park in downtown New Brunswick. 


[2] Source: White House Press Release, “Grants on Domestic Violence” , Mar 13, 2013 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/03/13/vice-president-biden-and-attorney-general-holder-announce-grants-help-re

[3] SHARON LAFRANIERE, DANIELA PORAT and AGUSTIN ARMENDARIZ “A Drumbeat of Multiple Shootings, But America isn’t Listening” May 16, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/23/us/americas-overlooked-gun-violence.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Why do we need Women’s History Month?

“Why do we even need a Women’s History Month?” I’ve heard skeptical women my own age ask. Perhaps that’s because we are the beneficiaries of a long – and on-going – struggle for equal rights. We grew up in a world where women have the right to vote, where domestic violence is considered a crime. That was not always so, and still is not the case in many places in the world.

I stand in solidarity with all women fighting for equal rights, including the right to live free of abuse. The fact is that women, throughout their lives, are overwhelming and disproportionately victims of violence. There are so many reasons this is so, including unjust systems and entrenched attitudes. We need to recognize that the struggle continues. We need to drive change.

In spite of accounting for more than half the world’s population, women have been invisible in history books and halls of power. In my mind, Women’s History Month serves as one way to shine a light on the achievements and struggles of women over the centuries and around the globe. It reminds us to keep clamoring for justice.

Maliha Janjua

Program Supervisor

Women Aware

A Moment to Honor the Pioneers

Madeline Albright’s article, My Undiplomatic Moment, gave me a moment of pause. The feminist revolution, like any battle, was not always pretty but it always took courage. Challenging the status quo is not for the faint of heart. Pioneers pave the way for the next generation to inherit the benefits without the sacrifice. In the domestic violence movement there was a time when we did not have emergency shelters, hotlines and all of the many comprehensive services that we routinely provide today. There weren’t laws requiring mandatory arrests and applications for restraining orders. Domestic violence was not even a common place term. As Gloria Steinem once reminded me, “Before the women’s rights movement, domestic violence was called life”. To all of those glorious people who have spent their lives protecting the marginalized, given a voice to the silent and abused, I want to say thank you. Thank you for the lives that your words have saved. And one more thing, Ms. Albright, you have earned the right for an undiplomatic moment.

Phyllis Adams, MSW, MA, DVS
Executive Director, Women Aware