Asbury Park, NJ – Many domestic violence victims in the greater Asbury Park area reach out to Mercy Center fearful, without money, and with no support system. These victims, mostly women, want to escape their abusive relationships, and turn to Mercy Center for emergency services, guidance, and assistance with a safety plan. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month and every day, Mercy Center applauds domestic violence survivors and the hard work of victim advocates around the world.
“We recently met a mother of two who was referred to us from a local church. She was desperate to leave the physical abuse of her husband and worried about feeding and caring for her children. We encouraged her to gather important documents and helped her set up an appointment at the police station. We escorted her, along with a police officer, to pick up her children at school and helped her acquire a Restraining Order. This was a very difficult time for the family,” said Arlene Rivera, Victims Advocate Coordinator, Mercy Center.
“The financial strain of this decision was very challenging, but Mercy Center helped them with their immediate needs… groceries from our food pantry, uniforms for the children to attend school, and transportation to court. The mother was referred to domestic violence counseling and the children participated in trauma focused activities to address the issues of the horrors witnessed. Thankfully, the family gradually adjusted, and the mother became empowered, taking charge of her life,” stated Veronica Gilbert-Tyson, Director of Family Services, Mercy Center.
Additionally, Mercy Center offers culturally specific services for domestic violence victims. Studies show there is a disparity among victims/survivors of color in accessing domestic violence services. Mercy Center offers services in four languages – English, Spanish, Creole, and Arabic – and provides families of domestic violence with translation services for court. We help families find affordable housing, and provide special meals, including a Thanksgiving basket, and holiday gifts.
“Approximately six months after leaving her abuser, the mom was able to maintain her living situation. The children are content with a peaceful life. As for the abuser, he was deported due to a history of domestic violence against women,” added Rivera.
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October was first declared as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 1989. Domestic violence is prevalent in every community, and affects people of all ages, nationality, race, socioeconomic status, gender, and religion. Domestic violence can be physical, verbal, or both.
About Mercy Center
Mercy Center, based in Asbury Park, provides programs and services that empower, enrich, and educate. The nonprofit, founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1986, helps people facing socio-economic challenges realize their full potential, with a special emphasis on women and children. Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty with kindness, compassion, and understanding.Mercy Center offers Emergency Services, including food at our pantry which is open all day, every weekday. We provide clothing and utilities assistance to help sustain families facing financial difficulties. Our Family Resource Center is a “one-stop-shop” for resources, referrals, advocacy, counseling, and behavior modification services. The Family Resource Center offers group, virtual, and individual counseling to help families maintain healthier lives and relationships.
Mercy Center’s Sisters Academy of New Jersey is a middle school for girls grades five through eight. The Academy focuses on girls from surrounding communities from economically challenged families. It provides an education of excellence, life skills, and the necessary tools to become confident, self-sufficient, and successful in competitive high schools. In fact, 100% of our students graduate from high school.
To learn more about Mercy Center or to donate, visit www.mercycenternj.org. Follow Mercy Center on Facebook @MercyCenterAP and Instagram @MercyCenterNJ.