In 2001, the Status of Women Service Committee conducted a community needs assessment, to plan a ZISVAW (Zonta International Strategies to Eradicate Violence Against Women) Project with an objective to reduce the incidence of violence against women and children by supporting local advocacy and violence prevention strategies. The intent of this project was to make a grassroots difference in the lives of those manipulated by domestic and sexual violence in Mercer County.
Womanspace, a nonprofit organization providing counseling and services to victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, was consulted about the needs of women in Mercer County.
After talking to various individuals about our project goals, Zonta members Christine Armenti and Gerry Caparotta visited with Lt. James Brady at the East Windsor Police Department and that meeting lead to an invitation to attend a meeting of the newly formed Domestic Violence Victims Response Team (DVVRT) volunteers.
The DVVRTs are partnerships between Womanspace, Municipal Police Departments and community volunteers. Trained community volunteers meet with victims of domestic violence/sexual assault after an abusive incident in specially equipped areas in municipal police stations. Womanspace trains the volunteers and volunteers provide victims and their children with emotional support and furnish community resources at the time of the violent incident or upon request.
New Jersey law requires that volunteers be available to victims of domestic violence. Mercer County has an active team in all 13 municipalities: East Windsor Township, Ewing Township, Hamilton Township, Hightstown Borough, Hopewell Borough and Township, Lawrence Township, Pennington Borough, Princeton Borough and Township, the City of Trenton, Washington Township and West Windsor Township.
The service committee initiated the first R.A.V.E. (Rape And Violence Eradication) Walk in October 2001 to support Womanspace and the Domestic Violence (& sexual assault) Victim Response Teams.
In 2004 the newly formed, Sexual Assault Support Services Advocates (SASSA) were also designated as beneficiaries of the annual RAVE Walk. In the last 7 years over $46,000 dollars was raised to support women and children victims of abuse in Mercer County.
To see more photos from the 2013 RAVE walk, please visit the Zonta Club of Trenton’s Facebook Page.