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

The third annual Union County C.A.R.E.S. (Community, Action, Response, Education, and Safety) Domestic Violence Symposium will take place Thursday, April 7 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 Tuesday.

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, Iris House, and Trinitas Regional Medical Center. The agenda features more than a dozen speakers focusing on the central topic of the “5 W’s of Domestic Violence: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.”

The Symposium’s keynote address will be delivered by Denair Huggins, an author, motivational speaker, and family violence prevention advocate who will discuss her own personal experiences as a survivor of domestic violence.

Thereafter, the Symposium will feature three panels seeking to answer separate questions: who is impacted by domestic violence and why; how to identify domestic violence and when to respond; and why does domestic violence remain such a serious problem? A total of 11 panelists from fields ranging from law enforcement to medicine to social services and more will answer questions from moderators.

Closing out the Symposium will be remarks delivered by the sister of a victim of domestic violence who died as a result of abuse, the co-executive director of a New York City-based nonprofit dedicated to ending family violence, and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Victim/Witness Coordinator.

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. In order to help address this issue, during recent years the Prosecutor’s Office has revamped and expanded the role of its Domestic Violence Unit, which today remains centrally involved in planning the 2017 launch of the Union County Family Justice Center in the currently-under-construction Family Courthouse.

“So often people think that domestic violence is confined to only one group – and don’t realize that victims can be of any race, religion, economic strata, age, and more,” Lilien said. “By focusing on the ‘5 W’s’ we hope to dispel this myth and demonstrate that in fact, domestic violence is an equal-opportunity crime and can happen to anyone.”

“Domestic violence prevention has been a cornerstone of my administration from the day I took office nearly three years ago, and we are pleased to again participate in an event intended to spread the word about the scope and the seriousness of the issue,” acting Prosecutor Park said.

For more information or to register to attend the Symposium, go online to