Prosecutor’s Office, YWCA Union County hosting second annual domestic violence symposium

The second annual Union County C.A.R.E.S. (Community, Action, Response, Education, and Safety) Domestic Violence Symposium is scheduled to be held on the morning of Monday, April 20 at Kean University’s STEM Center in Union Township, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park and YWCA Union County Executive Director Janice C. Lilien jointly announced Friday.

The Symposium is being sponsored by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, YWCA Union County, Kean University, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Elizabeth-based Family and Children’s Services, and Trinitas Regional Medical Center. The agenda first features a total of eight panelists speaking on two topics: teen dating violence and cyberbullying, and the impact of trauma and domestic violence on children.

The first panel will feature keynote speaker Dr. Mitch Abrams, a sports, clinical, and forensic psychologist with offices in Tinton Falls and the Fords section of Edison. Abrams, one of the nation’s leading experts on anger management and violence prevention in sports, will speak about his experiences in private practice working with young victims of dating violence.

The second panel will feature keynote speaker Dr. Esther Deblinger, the co-founder and co-director of the Child Abuse Research Education and Services (C.A.R.E.S.) Institute at Rowan University. Deblinger will speak about her experiences conducting extensive clinical research on treatment provided to victims of child sexual abuse.

Additional panelists include social workers, mental health professionals, and Prosecutor’s Office attorneys who routinely handle cases of domestic violence and child abuse. After the two panels, attendees will join one of 10 informal roundtables in order to share lunch, network, and discuss topics including the role of schools in teen dating violence prevention, safety planning with technology, demystifying images of love and sexuality in popular culture, deconstructing gender roles and building healthy relationships, identifying and reporting incidents of harassment occurring through social media, the legal response to teen dating violence, therapeutic supports for families experiencing domestic violence-related trauma; sexting, “sextortion,” and legal accountability; building a community/culture that cares; and Union County resources for children.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that 1.3 million women become victims of physical violence by an intimate partner annually in the U.S., and in recent years, Union County municipal police departments have handled approximately 3,500 to 4,000 domestic violence calls per year – an average of more than 10 every day.

“The topic for this year’s Symposium reflects the growing concern with both teen dating violence and the impact of domestic violence on children,” Lilien said. “Children are involved in nearly one-third of all domestic violence cases, and the impact and ramifications of that can last a lifetime. We hope to begin to address this proactively, starting with this event.”

“Addressing the too-often overlooked issue of domestic violence has been one of my top priorities from the day I took office nearly two years ago – it’s why we revamped our Domestic Violence Unit last year, infusing it with additional resources, streamlining the fashion in which it handles cases, and ensuring that our municipal police departments were properly positioned to approach every such incident with the care and attention needed,” Park said. “We are hopeful that this annual Symposium will continue to create strong partnerships and shine a spotlight on this important issue.”

The Symposium will be open to members of the media for coverage purposes.