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Timeline

Womanspace, Inc. celebrates its more than 30 year history by recognizing milestones that have shaped our history and have influenced the environment in which the agency now operates. A warm, heartfelt appreciation goes out to everyone who has contributed to the richness that represents our history. It is our community of supporters that has helped to build Womanspace into what it is today and who continue to allow us to grow into the future.

1970-1979

  • 1976The Mercer County Commission on the Status of Women begins holding public meetings, and the issue of domestic violence is in the forefront.
  • 1977The New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women is organized by a group of people who are concerned about the lack of services available to battered women in an emergency.
  • May 23, 1977Barbara Sigmund, Ellen Belknap, Valorie Caffee, Deborah Metzger and Mary Ann Cannon sign the Womanspace Certificate of Incorporation.
  • June 1977Womanspace emerges as a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to meeting the special needs of women.
  • December 1977Major funding for beginning shelter operations comes from the State Law Enforcement Planning Agency. It is the first program to receive Title XX, Adult Protective Services federal funding through the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Youth and Family Services.
  • February 1, 1978The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is founded.
  • February 6, 1978The initial Womanspace, Inc. project, Mercer County Women’s Center, opens its doors.

1980-1989

  • Summer 1981The United Way of Princeton Area Communities accepts Womanspace as a new member for 1982. Governor Brendan Byrne signs Assembly Bill 1330 into law. This bill allows a municipal court judge, in cases of spousal abuse complaints, to order the accused out of the marital residence for 72 hours if the judge finds probable cause to believe that clear and immediate harm may occur to the spouse of the accused or to family members.
  • September 1981The Marriage License Tax Bill (Assembly No. 618) is introduced by Senator Joseph P. Merlino. This bill allows an additional $5 levy to the present $3 marriage license fee to support spouse abuse projects throughout the state, and would generate about $250,000 annually.
  • October 1981Chief Justice Robert Wilentz, New Jersey State Supreme Court, appoints a special committee to study the problems of battered women in New Jersey.
  • October 16, 1981The First National Day of Unity (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) is held.
  • December 31, 1981Acting New Jersey Governor Senator Joseph P. Merlino signs legislation increasing the marriage license fee from $3 to $8 to help provide funds for victims of domestic violence (signed for Brendan Byrne, who was away on vacation).
  • 1981The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is introduced in both houses of the state legislature by Senator Wynona Lipman and Assemblywoman Barbara McConnell. This Act offers legal remedies to victims of violence committed by people with whom they live.
  • March 7-March 13, 1982National Women’s History Week
  • April 5, 1982The New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women opens its new office.
  • April 9, 1982The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act becomes law in New Jersey.
  • April 17, 1982A benefit luncheon for Womanspace is held with Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick.
  • May 5, 1982An educational meeting on domestic violence is held in Trenton, sponsored by the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Civil Rights in cooperation with New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women, to provide a follow-up to the Committee’s 1981 report “Battered Women in New Jersey” and more specifically to discuss new state legislation related to domestic violence.
  • June 1, 1982A Legal Task Force is formed by Womanspace staff, board members and volunteers to help address the most critical legal needs of shelter residents.
  • July 10, 1982Barbara Trent performs at a concert to benefit Womanspace.
  • August 3-August 7, 1982The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence holds the second national conference and membership meeting.
  • October 8, 1982New Jersey’s Unity Day is proclaimed by Governor Thomas H. Kean.
  • October 9 – 16, 1982Domestic Violence Awareness Week is declared at a public signing ceremony, and the first Domestic Violence Awareness Week in Mercer County is held.
  • October 16, 1982The New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence declares the 2nd National Day of Unity.
  • December 4, 1983The Gala New Orleans Jazz Brunch celebrates the five year anniversary of Womanspace opening its shelter’s doors to victims of domestic violence.
  • October 8-October 13, 1984Domestic Violence Awareness Week
  • January 27, 1985The Gala New Orleans Jazz Brunch, “Laissez les bon temps roulez,” is held, with Mercer County Prosecutor Philip Carchman honored for his leadership in the state and county on issue of domestic violence.
  • June 1985Womanspace announces the opening of a second facility, an administrative and counseling office, at 1860 Brunswick Pike in Lawrenceville.
  • October 1-October 31, 1985The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month is held in New Jersey.
  • October 12, 1985The 5th National Day of Unity for battered women is held.
  • 1985The US Surgeon General declares, “family violence” the “#1 health problem in America.”
  • February 1988The first Lawrenceville/Princeton Antiques Show, to benefit Womanspace, held at National Guard Armory in Lawrenceville, by Mancuso Show Management.
  • April 28, 1989An annual legal conference on domestic violence is held, co-sponsored by the Womanspace Outreach Program and the Trenton State College Women’s Center.

1990-1999

  • May 27, 1991Governor Jim Florio declares Barbara Boggs Sigmund Day.
  • October 30, 1991The Not-So-Open Open House is held and donors are invited to visit the newly renovated shelter.
  • 1991The National Center on Women and Family Law announces the National Battered Women’s Law Project, serving battered women’s advocates and policy makers.
  • 1991The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is amended.
  • November 13, 1992Governor Jim Florio signs S522 bill sponsoring a rise in the marriage fee from $8 to $28. The extra $20 is to go to a fund for victims of domestic violence.
  • November 25, 1992“16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence,” an international campaign, begins.
  • 1994 – The Violence Against Women Act is enacted to fund domestic violence programs and guarantee civil rights for women.
  • May 23, 1995 – The first Annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award honored Cokie Roberts, political correspondent, best-selling author and sister of the late Womanspace founder, Barbara Boggs Sigmund.
  • February 21, 1996President Clinton announces a nationwide toll-free domestic violence hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • May 1996- Womanspace honored Mary Alice Williams, award-winning filmmaker on women’s changing roles in society, and Anne W. Richards, civil rights activist and Texas Governor, at the second annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.
  • May 23, 1997Womanspace celebrates the 20th Anniversary of its incorporation.
  • May 1997- Womanspace honors Diane Sawyer, distinguished journalist, at the third annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.
  • August 5, 1997New Jersey statutes 39:3-4, 39:3-9b and 39:3-9c are enacted, permitting victims of stalking, sexual assault or domestic violence to use a post office box or another person’s address as the official address on their driver’s license and vehicle registration. The Division of Motor Vehicles is prohibited from disseminating these victims’ street addresses to the general public.
  • February 6, 1998The 20th Anniversary of the Shelter Opening is held with founders, original staff and board and volunteers.
  • March 1998The first Mercer County Domestic Violence Victim Response Team is created in collaboration with the East Windsor Township Police Department.
  • April 19-25, 1998National Volunteer Week is celebrated with numerous events held to thank Womanspace volunteers.
  • May 1998- Womanspace honors Pat Ciarrocchi, Emmy award-winning news anchor, at the fourth annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.
  • Voices Against Violence media campaign launches to unite celebrities and other prominent figures in the fight against domestic violence.
  • February 1999New Jersey debuts a computerized domestic violence registry that allows police officers to learn of any domestic violence history en route to a call for help.
  • May 1999- Womanspace honors Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, at the annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.
  • June 15, 1999Members of the Domestic Violence Victim Response Teams of Hopewell, Pennington, Princeton Borough and West Windsor graduate, joining East Windsor team members in providing services to victims of domestic violence in five of Mercer County’s 13 municipalities.

2000 – 2009

  • 2000 – The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is reauthorized and improved by expanding protections.
  • February 2000 – The First V-Day College Campaign holds performances of “The Vagina Monologues” at Princeton University, to benefit Womanspace.
  • November 2000The Ewing Township Domestic Violence Victim Response Team becomes operational.
  • May 2000 – Womanspace honors Star Jones, Emmy Award-winning co-host for The View, at the annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award ceremony.
  • May 2001 – Womanspace honors Ann, Pat, and Sandy, three brave domestic violence survivors who shared their stories for the Bridges to Safety video, with the Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.
  • October 2001The first Rape and Violence Eradication (R.A.V.E.) Walk, sponsored by Zonta, is held to benefit Womanspace.
  • December 2001The Lawrence Township Domestic Violence Victim Response Team becomes operational.
  • January 2002Sexual assault services are added to Womanspace’s programs.
  • May 2002 – Womanspace honors Lindy Boggs, the first woman to be elected to the House of Representatives from Louisiana, at the annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award ceremony.
  • November 2002Volunteers and police officers from Hightstown and Princeton Township complete training and Domestic Violence Victim Response Teams become operational. Teams now serve nine of the thirteen Mercer County municipalities.
  • December 22, 2002The first Communities of Light™ – Peace Begins at Home project occurs, with luminary candles lit at dusk to raise awareness and funds for domestic violence and Womanspace services.
  • April 2003New Jersey legislature passes a joint resolution declaring April- Sexual Assault Awareness month.
  • May 2003 – Womanspace honors Linda Fairstein with the Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award for her work as the head of Manhattan’s Sex Crimes Unit and her novel Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape.
  • December 21, 2003The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman serves as Honorary Chair for Communities of Light™ 2003 with the Resource Center for Women and Their Families in Somerset County and Women’s Crisis Services in Hunterdon County, joining Womanspace in the lighting of luminaries. More than 50,000 candles were lit in the three counties.
  • October 2003 – A seven-unit apartment building is purchased to eventually house Barbara’s House, a short-term, transitional housing program for women and children to help them make a new start after experiencing domestic violence in their lives.
  • 2004 – The Domestic Violence Victim Response Teams expand to cover all Mercer County communities and police departments.
  • 2004 – Womanspace partners with Children’s Future to provide Project SAFE, which targets Trenton’s parents, teens and children for primary prevention of and early intervention from abuse and violence.
  • May 2004 – Womanspace honors Emily Mann, Tony Award-winning playwright, at the annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award ceremony.
  • Summer and Fall 2005 – The “Watch Your Drink; Watch Your Friends” Awareness Campaign is launched with the Mercer County Sexual Assault Response Team in local bars and night clubs. This campaign provides drink coasters to warn women of the possibility of drug-facilitated sexual assault.
  • 2005 – The Womanspace Annual Report highlights partners across Mercer County that facilitate access to the criminal justice system such as the DVVRT, health care professionals, faith communities, law enforcement and the family law members of the New Jersey State Bar Association.
  • 2005 – The Violence Against Women Act is improved to ensure that battered women in public or subsidized housing will not risk homelessness if they seek help to end a violent relationship, and to develop prevention strategies.
  • May 2005 – Womanspace honors Kent Manahan, Emmy Award winning senior news anchor, documentary producer and host for NJN, with the annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.
  • June 2005 – “Keeping Mom Safe, Keeping Baby Healthy: Assessment and Intervention for Danger and Abuse” day long conference is held with Children’s Futures, New Jersey Hospital Association and Womanspace.
  • October 2005 – Volunteers circulate Womanspace literature as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month to municipal and county court facilities, hospitals, libraries, hairdressers and nail salons. This literature circulation campaign occurs periodically, highlighting different organizations and places where women are likely to see it.
  • 2006 – The first family moves into Barbara’s House, the short-term transitional housing program.
  • May 2006 – Womanspace honors Nina Totenberg, renowned journalist and legal correspondent who informs the public of how Supreme Court rulings change women’s lives, with the Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.
  • 2007 – Barbara’s House reaches full capacity of families of women and children. There are a total of six apartments available for the program.
  • May 2007 – Womanspace honors Nell Merlino, President and CEO of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, with the annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.
  • October 2007 – A Children’s Library with 250 books, bookshelves, chairs and tables is completed at Womanspace, with funds donated by Board member Fran Zeitler, in honor of her mother Ruth Turim, a lifelong educator. The project was completed in partnership through the Princeton Chapter of Jewish Women International.
  • 2008 – Four families have completed the Barbara’s House program to date and all four have moved into safe, permanent homes.
  • May 2008 – Womanspace honors Jean Kilbourne, an award-winning author and filmmaker who exposes the images of women in advertising, with the annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.
  • August 2008 – Womanspace launches the Trenton Municipal Court – Domestic Violence Court Advocacy program, which provides short-term referral and follow up to victims of domestic violence seeking legal protection from their abusers.
  • October 2008 – The innovative Home-School Program begins. Before this option, families in shelter could either return to their regular schools, which could present a safety concern, or enroll their children at a local public school near the shelter. The Home-School Program provides families in crisis with an additional safety net by allowing children to be schooled in the shelter by screened volunteer educators.
  • January 2009 – President Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.
  • February 2009 – Family Guidance Center partners with Womanspace and other agencies to for the Community of Services Collaboration (COSC), which will improve access, capacity, and quality of family services within Mercer County.
  • April 2009 – Christine Ward, Womanspace’s former Domestic Violence Victim Response Team Coordinator, former director for education and outreach, and former shelter director for the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center, was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to California’s Domestic Violence Advisory Council.
  • May 2009 – Womanspace honors Dr. Nancy Snyderman, acclaimed author and spokesperson on public health issues, with the annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.
  • July 2009 – Womanspace, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, and local law enforcement join to start new Cut It Out program, which trains salon professionals to recognize domestic violence so they can provide resources to clients.
  • December 2009 – Pennington Mayor Anthony Persichilli, Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo, and West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh proclaim Dec. 13, 2009, as Communities of Light™ Day.

2010 – Present

  • May 2010 – Womanspace honors C. Vivian Stringer with the Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award for her best-selling memoir, induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and record-breaking NCAA coaching.
  • May 2011 – Womanspace honors Faith Ringgold, word renowned Artist and Writer, with the annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award.

New Jersey

  • 1976 – The Mercer County Commission on the Status of Women begins holding public meetings, and the issue of domestic violence is in the forefront.
  • 1977 – The New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women is organized by a group of people concerned about the lack of services available to battered women in crisis.
  • Summer 1981 – Governor Brendan Byrne signs Assembly Bill 1330 into law. This bill allows a municipal court judge, in cases of spousal abuse complaints, to order the accused out of the marital residence for 72 hours if the judge finds probable cause to believe that clear and immediate harm may occur to the spouse of the accused or to family members.
  • September 1981 – The Marriage License Tax Bill (Assembly No. 618) is introduced by Senator Joseph P. Merlino. This bill allows an additional $5 levy to the present $3 marriage license fee to support spouse abuse projects throughout the state, generating about $250,000 annually.
  • October 1981 – Chief Justice Robert Wilentz, New Jersey State Supreme Court, appoints a special committee to study the problems of battered women in New Jersey.
  • October 16, 1981 – The First National Day of Unity (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) is held.
  • December 31, 1981 – Acting New Jersey Governor Senator Joseph P. Merlino signs legislation increasing the marriage license fee from $3 to $8 to help provide funds for victims of domestic violence.
  • 1981 – The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is introduced in both houses of the state legislature by Senator Wynona Lipman and Assemblywoman Barbara McConnell. This Act offers legal remedies to victims of violence committed by people with whom they live.
  • April 9, 1982 – The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act becomes law in New Jersey.
  • May 5, 1982 – An educational meeting on domestic violence is held in Trenton, sponsored by the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Civil Rights in cooperation with the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women. Meeting attendees provide follow-up to the Committee’s 1981 report “Battered Women in New Jersey” and discusses state legislation related to domestic violence.
  • August 3-August 7, 1982 – The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence holds the second national conference and membership meeting.
  • October 8, 1982 – Governor Thomas H. Kean proclaims New Jersey’s Unity Day.
  • October 9 – 16, 1982 – Domestic Violence Awareness Week is declared at a public signing ceremony, and the first Domestic Violence Awareness Week in Mercer County is held.
  • October 1-October 31, 1985 – New Jersey holds its first Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
  • May 27, 1991 – Governor Jim Florio declares Barbara Boggs Sigmund Day.
  • November 13, 1992 – Governor Jim Florio signs S522 bill raising the marriage license fee from $8 to $28. The extra $20 adds support to a fund for victims of domestic violence.
  • August 5, 1997 – New Jersey statutes 39:3-4, 39:3-9b and 39:3-9c are enacted, permitting victims of stalking, sexual assault or domestic violence to use a post office box or another person’s address as the official address on their driver’s license and vehicle registration. The Division of Motor Vehicles is prohibited from disseminating these victims’ street addresses to the general public.
  • February 1999 – New Jersey creates a computerized domestic violence registry that allows police officers to learn of any domestic violence history en route to a call for help.
  • 2000 – A law is passed that allows victims who are fired or quit their jobs as a result of domestic violence to apply for unemployment compensation.
  • 2003 – NJ Supreme Court decides Sacharow v. Sacharow and finds that a final restraining order is not necessary for eligibility in the NJ Address Confidentiality Program and that, where domestic violence exists, address confidentiality presumptively serves both the victim and the child’s welfare by avoiding occasions of violence. Legislation is passed prohibiting the discrimination of victims of domestic violence by the insurance industry.
  • April 2003 – The New Jersey State Legislature passes a joint resolution declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness month.
  • 2004 – SHE Program is established to provide short and long term housing assistance to victims of domestic violence receiving shelter or transitional housing services from domestic violence.
  • 2005 – NJ Supreme Court decides Shah v. Shah, which affords victims who flee to NJ the protection of a temporary restraining order, which shall remain in full force and effect, when the act occurs out-of-state and NJ has no personal jurisdiction of the batterers.
  • 2006 – NJ Supreme Court decides State v. Townsend, which in part concludes that “the characteristics of battered women with or without a diagnosis of battered woman’s syndrome are sufficiently reliable to support expert testimony as an aid to the jury.
  • May 2009 – In response to three Trenton women’s deaths, Trenton Police Director Irving Bradley introduced a Domestic Violence Unit to enforce domestic violence procedures.
  • November 2009 – Special Commission to Reduce Domestic and Sexual Violence was formed in Trenton to conduct awareness campaigns, develop prevention strategies, and deliver an annual report.
  • January 2010 – Four local assemblywomen propose a five-bill package to combat domestic violence with more stringent penalties to present to the Judiciary Committee.

United States and International Events

  • February 1, 1978 – The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is founded.
  • 1985 – The US Surgeon General declares, “Family violence is the #1 health problem in America.”
  • 1991 – The National Center on Women and Family Law announces the National Battered Women’s Law Project, serving battered women’s advocates and policy makers.
  • 1991 – The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is amended.
  • November 25, 1992 – “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence,” an international campaign, begins.
  • February 21, 1996 – President Clinton announces a nationwide toll-free domestic violence hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • January 2008 – U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) declares National Stalking Awareness Month in a Senate Resolution to increase awareness about stalking. Collins states, “Many experts have concluded that there is a strong connection between stalking and violence toward women. Efforts such as National Stalking Awareness Month help to raise awareness about this serious and potentially deadly crime.”

Mercer County

Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault 24 Hour Hotline

(609) 394-9000

New Jersey Statewide

Domestic Violence 24 Hour Hotline

(800) 572-SAFE (7233)

For callers with hearing or speech impairments:

(TTY) 888-252-SAFE (7233)

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