|Barbara Boggs Sigmund|
In 1976, when the newly created Mercer County Commission on the Status of Women began holding public meetings, one major issue of concern came to the forefront – domestic violence. Under the leadership of Barbara Boggs Sigmund, then a Mercer County Freeholder, and with the vision and assistance of her intern, Deborah Metzger, a proposal was developed to provide services for women in crisis. By June 1977, after more than 50 local organizations joined together to develop plans, the corporation of Womanspace, Inc. was formed.
The first task was to find a site for what was then called the Mercer County Women’s Center, a shelter for female survivors of domestic violence and their children. The shelter, a safe haven at an undisclosed location, opened in February 1978 and filled to capacity almost immediately – a trend that has continued through the years. The shelter accommodates eight families with a total capacity for 26 women and children. Alternative placements are arranged if the shelter is full.
In 1985, Womanspace moved its administrative staff and counseling services to Brunswick Avenue in Lawrenceville. Space needed for client programming drove the purchase of a building in 1995 on Stuyvesant Avenue in Trenton to house administration, Education & Training, and our Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program Coordinators. Again In 2011, the unfortunate demand for counseling exceeds the building’s physical capacity and another building was purchased on Brunswick Avenue to allow for program growth and the reunification of Womanspace offices.
When Barbara Boggs Sigmund, Mary Ann Cannon, Ellen Belknap, Deborah Metzger and Valorie Caffee signed the certificate of incorporation officially registering Womanspace in the State of New Jersey on May 23, 1977, they hoped that Womanspace would serve victims beyond the initial crisis. Their vision has become a reality as our services continue to evolve to assist clients facing complex situations due to the violence in their lives.
Womanspace continues to effectively fulfill our mission to meet the needs of families who come to us for help who are in abusive situations and require immediate crisis intervention, systems advocacy or counseling. We employ client-based services that empower victims with knowledge and resources, so they can make choices for themselves. Assistance is available through our hotlines, court advocacy, and other programs. Womanspace networks at the state, county, and municipal levels to educate community members and professionals in law enforcement, social services and healthcare about interpersonal violence, involving them in the coordinated community response that will provide safety and support to victims and require accountability and consequences for abusers.
|Mary Ann Cannon|
The Domestic Violence Victim Response Team Program (DVVRT) was launched, in March 1998, to work with police departments in local municipalities to respond to reported incidents of domestic violence. Trained volunteer victim advocate team members are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet with victims to provide resources and support at the police station. In May 2004, the DVVRT Teams were restructured to serve all 13 municipalities in Mercer County. This program has flourished and now includes teams that serve with the NJ State Police at the Headquarters in Hamilton Township, The College of New Jersey and Princeton University.
In January 2002, Womanspace began the Sexual Assault Support Services Program that is available 24/7 to support victims and survivors of sexual assault at a very critical time. By providing comfort and information about their rights and options, trained volunteer advocates enhance the victim-centered approach that is now standard for providing services to sexual assault survivors. Advocates provide accompaniment to hospitals, police interviews and court in response to crisis calls received by the hotline, from local hospitals or police.
In December 2011, Womanspace completed a move to a newly renovated, ADA compliant building in Lawrenceville, NJ. The move facilitated the realization of a long-term goal to implement a therapeutic children’s program. With a child friendly space now available at our new location, we are able to assist the youngest victims of family violence to overcome the trauma they have experienced. The newly expanded counseling office located on the first floor of the new headquarters facility, also took on a new name – The Barbara and Herb Goodfriend Counseling Center. It was generously funded by a former Womanspace client and philanthropist who named the center in memory of her parents.
Since its inception, Womanspace has assisted over 51,428 women, 8,497 children and 2,762 men who have experienced the tragedy of interpersonal violence through our bilingual programs. The agency has trained and educated over 115,005 professionals and community members on the issue of domestic violence and has responded to over 238,389 hotline telephone calls. Over 301,000 adults and children have been served by Womanspace, since 1977.
Each May, Womanspace presents the Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award to a person who champions causes and issues affecting the lives of women and children. The annual award honors the life and legacy of our founder Barbara Sigmund, who died in 1990. The Womanspace Annual Meeting and the launch of the Communities of Light™ ~ Peace Begins at Home Campaign occur in October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We promote Sexual Assault Awareness, Child Abuse Prevention and Volunteer Recognition, recognized nationally, during the Month of April.
Please check the News & Events section for current events.