October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and with the volunteerism of Gina Mellish, Miss New Jersey USA, together we are proud to launch “Don’t Be Silenced By Domestic Violence” – a community wide Education and Awareness campaign to encourage survivors to reach out to 180 for support. Posters will be distributed to Monmouth County businesses by a cadre of volunteers throughout the month. Today, Gina launches the poster distribution in her hometown of Oceanport, NJ, and the surrounding Two River area. Gina is a strong advocate against dating violence and as a survivor of relationship abuse as a teenager, she speaks from the heart and with authentic passion.

“I am just one example of the one in three women that will experience relationship abuse in their lifetime. But by sharing my story, I am opening the conversation that needs to be had with our young, vulnerable people to help recognize the signs of relationship abuse before they escalate. By taking power back and owning my experiences I have the ability to show that this can happen to anyone, even a Miss New Jersey USA titleholder. But I also want people to know that you can come out on the other side and be okay; there is no shame in the experiences survivors have endured.”

The campaign is of particular importance this October as our community continues to battle the pandemic. Since the emergence of COVID-19 many survivors have experienced additional obstacles to safely escaping an abuser including quarantine, health issues, job loss, and childcare. 180 has continuously worked to ensure that all our services have remained available to survivors throughout, and we want to encourage our community, to not be silenced by domestic violence. Help is available at 180.

In addition to the awareness posters, a series of social media posts will also circulate with the intention of reinforcing to our community that 180 is open and accessible to any survivor of domestic violence, relationship abuse or sexual assault.

If you would like to take part in raising awareness for domestic violence this month and hang a poster in your place of business or help 180 in the distribution process, please email: amandaf@180nj.org

Read Gina’s personal story and her experience with domestic violence here: https://swaay.com/recognize-signs-relationship-abuse-survivor

Learn more about 180 here: www.180nj.org