UCPO, YWCA Union County hosting sixth annual Domestic Violence Symposium

The sixth annual Union County C.A.R.E.S. (Community, Action, Response, Education, and Safety) Domestic Violence Symposium is scheduled to take place this Thursday, April 11 at Kean University’s STEM Center in Union Township, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan and YWCA Union County Chief Executive Officer Janice C. Lilien jointly announced Monday.

The Symposium again is being jointly presented by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and YWCA Union County, and co-sponsored by Kean University, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Elizabeth-based Family and Children’s Services, and the Elizabethtown Healthcare Foundation. The agenda features more than a dozen speakers focusing on this year’s topic: “A Lethal Reality: When Domestic Violence Turns Deadly.”

The Symposium’s keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Jacquelyn C. Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN, a Professor and Anna D. Wolf Chair at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Nursing and also the National Program Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Nurse Faculty Scholars program. Dr. Campbell, a nationally renowned leader in research and advocacy in the field of domestic violence and intimate partner violence (IPV), has authored or co-authored more than 230 publications and seven books on violence and health outcomes.

Thereafter, the Symposium will feature three panels focusing on the topics of Domestic Violence-Related Lethality Risk Factors, Case Discussions of Domestic Violence-Related Homicide Investigations, and Safety, Services, and Resources for Victims and their Families.

A total of 11 panelists from fields ranging from law enforcement to victim advocacy to social services and more will discuss issues raised by the panel’s three moderators, then respond to questions from the audience. Speakers will include Karyn Weingarten, Supervisor of the Prosecutor’s Office’s Domestic Violence Unit; Michael Henn, head of the Union County Homicide Task Force; Tisheka Allen, YWCA Union County’s Crisis Response Team Coordinator; and Adela Caceres, Director of the Union County Family Justice Center (FJC). 

The second panel also will feature remarks by the sister of a woman who was fatally shot by her estranged husband in downtown Elizabeth in 2010, as well as Union County Assistant Prosecutor and Special Victims Unit Supervisor Caroline Lawlor, who convicted the defendant following a trial that concluded in 2015 (later that same year, he was sentenced to life in prison).

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 several thousand 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 participated directly in the September 2017 grand opening of the FJC in the Union County Courthouse’s Cherry Street Annex, a state-of-the-art facility that offers a range of services and resources to victims of domestic violence and their families.

“We here at the Prosecutor’s Office are extremely proud that our Domestic Violence Symposium has developed into one of the most well-attended and comprehensive annual events of its kind anywhere in New Jersey,” Prosecutor Monahan said. “Now in its sixth year, this year’s Symposium will feature a range of knowledgeable and engaging speakers, and we are again confident that those who attend will leave with ideas, resources, and best practices that will help them immensely in their everyday work striving to help some of our most vulnerable crime victims.”

“This year’s theme, domestic violence lethality, is especially important to those of us who do this work, because the risk of lethality is always present in our work with victims,” Lilien said. “An average of three women a day are killed by their intimate partner in the U.S., and in Union County, 15 to 20 percent of all homicides have domestic violence as a contributing factor. The more we understand the risks and resources, the more we can work together to prevent DV-related homicides and save more lives.”

“The purpose of events such as the Symposium is to bring about awareness, community action, and violence prevention. As a law enforcement agency, we work with our community agencies, and indeed our community members, to bring justice to those who have been impacted by violence,” UCPO Victim/Witness Coordinator Maria Reynolds said. “Speaking and learning about these issues is fundamental for all members of the Union County community. We look forward to this event, but more importantly, we look forward to the engagement in community action.”

The Symposium again has been timed to coincide with the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crimes Victims’ Rights Week, being held this year from April 7-13 (for more information, go online to

Follow the Prosecutor’s Office on Twitter at @UCPONJ, or search for hashtag #UCCARES, for real-time updates and photos from the Symposium.