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Women Aware

Women Aware Vice-President Honored

EDISON–Last night the Middlesex County Bar Association held its 12th Annual Awards Dinner. The Association honored long-time Women Aware supporter and current Vice President Jessica Oppenheim, Esq. with the prestigious Criminal Practice Award. It recognizes attorneys who are model leaders in their field, the Bar, and charitable endeavors.

Jessica’s reputation for personal and professional integrity earned her the Award, along with the tangible contributions she makes to the community through her service with Women Aware and the ARC of New Jersey.

Congratulations, Jessica!

NJ Ladies Give Back, a Muslim-led Initiative, Raises Thousands for Women Aware

South Plainfield, N.J. – On Saturday night, over 100 women gathered at the South Plainfield Senior Center for a night of Zumba, dancing, and empowerment.  The night’s mix of music ranging from 80’s to modern hip hop to Desi and Arabic tunes reflected the massive diversity of the crowd.  

The objective of the evening was to raise funds for Women Aware, a nonprofit in New Brunswick, New Jersey that has over 35 years of experience providing services to survivors of domestic violence. “We are the sole domestic violence agency in Middlesex County,” stated Katie Orlemanski, development manager at Women Aware.  “1 in 4 women in the United States are affected by violence,” she continued. “These women need to be empowered.  We advocate for resources and housing and provide trauma therapy for affected children.”  Ms. Orlemanski also noted that Women Aware provides “8,000 nights of refuge every year to women and children fleeing violence.”

“Every year we choose a national or international group in dire need and support this group with the proceeds from our annual dance party,” noted Amal Awad, a co-founder of NJ Ladies Give Back.. “We hope to continue this kindness and inspire other women to unite and create these important initiatives around the world.”

“I visited Women Aware and witnessed what they do,” Ms. Awad continued.  “They have even contracted with AT&T to provide translators for callers who are seeking help but are unable to speak English.”  Ms. Awad encouraged attendees to donate what they could, even after purchasing tickets.  “It is what you have in your heart that you put in this collection bucket,” she said.  Ultimately, after covering a few event expenses, NJ Ladies Give Back donated $3,423 to Women Aware.  

NJ Ladies Give Back is a Muslim-led initiative that strives to highlight the good that women are doing in New Jersey and to support humanitarian causes at home and abroad.  Their signature event is annual ladies dance parties and after two years of supporting Palestinian children and Syrian refugees, the group decided to identify a local cause.  

“At the end of the day, we are just a group of five friends who want to help our neighbors and people across the globe,” noted Abby Feitar, another NJ Ladies Give back co-founder.  “Additionally, we hope these events will showcase the true face of our faith, a faith that is rooted in justice and compassion.”  
To follow NJ Ladies Give Back, visit us at https://www.facebook.com/NJLadiesGiveBack/  

Are you interested in hosting a similar event to benefit victims of domestic violence? Contact Katie Orlemanski, Development Manager at korlemanski@womenaware.net or 732-374-6016. 

Thanks-for-Giving Tuesday!

Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Did you know that today is GIVING TUESDAY? It’s a time to step back from the holiday shopping and direct our resources towards helping others. Women Aware’s ability to support domestic violence victims and their families would not be possible without your continued commitment and generous support. Please consider making Women Aware part of your year-end giving.

Donate here to help families move beyond abuse

(Photo: Mothers and children at Women Aware’s domestic violence crisis shelter traced colorful hearts for our November Gratitude Board.)

Vote for her story…From Survivor to Advocate

When Maliha was in college, her abusive ex-boyfriend walked into the mall and shot at her five times before turning the gun and killing himself. Nine years later, Maliha has overcome violent tragedy to become one of the leading advocates against domestic violence in New Jersey. Today she serves as the Director of Client Services at Women Aware doing innovative work with youth survivors. Click the link below to hear Maliha tell her own story and to learn more about her work at Women Aware.

UPDATE: Maliha’s story “From Survivor to Advocate” has been chosen as 1 OF 24 VIDEOS IN THE NATION up for a grand prize of $5,000 to support her work. Now it’s up to US to vote for Maliha!

To watch and vote for Maliha’s story:

  1. Click https://www.challenge.gov/challenge/domestic-violence-video-challenge/
  2. Click on “Solutions” in the left column.
  3. Scroll down towards the bottom to find Women Aware’s video (Blue House Icon)
  4. Before clicking on the Blue House Icon…
    1. There are stars underneath the Blue House
    2. Hover over the last star in the line of 5 stars
    3. Make sure all 5 stars are lit
    4. Click on the 5th star
  5. You’ve voted. Thank you!

Public voting closes November 30th. Thank you for spreading the word over social media, email, texts, and word of mouth.

Emmy-nominated Journalist Interviews Women Aware

Maliha Janjua, Director of Client Services at Women Aware and dating violence survivor, speaks at Women Aware’s Candlelight Vigil (October 2016)

Listen In

Emmy-Nominated Journalist Jennifer Lewis-Hall interviews Women Aware’s Phyllis Adams and Maliha Janjua for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Maliha (pictured) shares how she overcame a violent tragedy to become one of the leading advocates for survivors of domestic violence in New Jersey. Executive Director Phyllis Adams discusses the prevalence of domestic violence and what YOU can do in the fight to end it.

  1. Episode 1 (25 mins)
  2. Episode 2 (25 mins)

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

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

Save the Date: Annual Candlelight Vigil

October 6th, 2016 | 7:00- 8:00 pm

October 6th, 2016 | 7:00- 8:00 pm

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.

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