Paramus hosts 'Walk Together Against Domestic Violence' to raise awareness about abuse
More than 100 residents in Paramus walked to raise awareness and money for domestic violence Saturday.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and reports show that rates of abuse have risen during the pandemic.
The 3K Walk Together Against Domestic Violence was put together by the Center for Hope and Safety, a safe house in the area.
"Today as we are in the midst of our COVID-19 pandemic, our challenge is the greatest it has ever been because the COVID-19 pandemic has been fueling domestic violence," says Center for Hope and Safety Executive Director Juyle Mynor. "And we are aware and are trapped in their homes who need safety and need help in rebuilding their lives."
The event started at Van Saun Park and cost participants $25 to register. Masks were required during the walk.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience abuse from an intimate partner in some form.
According to the Center for Hope and Safety, 95% of homicides in Bergen County are related to domestic violence. One of those cases involved Michelle Sabia, a 44-year-old mother of three and school teacher in Rutherford.
On July 6, 2016, Sabia was shot and killed by her husband on the front lawn of their home. After a standoff with police he turned the gun on himself.
Peter and Jackie Miragliotta, Michelle’s parents, haven taken part in the walk ever since.
"We feel a great sense of urgency to get that word out to make people aware of [domestic violence] and to let people who are victims of domestic abuse know that there is hope and they're not alone," said Peter Miragliotta.
Mynor says during the beginning of the pandemic, the center's domestic abuse hotline went silent. Reports of domestic violence dropped 50% in Bergen County, but the cases reported appeared to be more intense and severe.
Experts say this was due to victims being unable to safely connect with services, and not due to a decline in abuse.
Since June, there has been a gradual uptick in calls. Organizers say hotline calls doubled at their safe house.
Organizers say the walk raised more than $20,000 to help victims find safety and resources.