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Safe Room At Bergen County Courthouse Helps Domestic Violence Victims

The Waiting Room at the Bergen County Courthouse assisted more than 3,500 domestic violence victims in 2015.
The Waiting Room at the Bergen County Courthouse assisted more than 3,500 domestic violence victims in 2015. Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT

HACKENSACK, N.J. — The Waiting Room at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack ends 2015 having assisted some 3,500 victims of domestic violence.

Launched by the National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County in partnership with the county judicial system at the Bergen County Justice Center, The Waiting Room provides a place for victims to wait away from their abusers.

Before May 2013, when domestic violence victims came to confront their abusers at the Bergen County Courthouse, they waited in the hallway near these abusers.

According to the Alternatives to Domestic Violence, 4,521 incidents of domestic violence were reported to the police in Bergen County in 2011. Based on a study begun by NCJW BCS in 2010, the New Jersey state mandate for a separate waiting room was determined.

The Waiting Room was set to open in October 2012, but Superstorm Sandy struck, and the opening was postponed. After two years, The Waiting Room was opened on May 29, 2013, by Superior Court Assignment Judge Peter E. Doyne, who noted that, on average, about 10 domestic violence complaints are filed each day in Bergen County. The dedication ceremony was attended by judges, county executives, Assembly members, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg and NCJW members.

Today domestic violence victims awaiting hearings in the Bergen County Courthouse have a place to go. Up to 15 litigants a day use The Waiting Room, a comfortable space where they, along with their families and lawyers, find a comfortable, nurturing environment isolated from their abusers.

Trained NCJW volunteers, along with professionals and volunteers from Alternatives to Domestic Violence, provide a comforting and protective presence, and a TV loop and brochures offer information on county social services.

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