40th Anniversary

40 Years of Safe+Sound Somerset

  • 1800 - 

    Prior to the mid-1800s, most legal systems implicitly accepted wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband’s authority over his wife. One exception, however, was the 1641 Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, which declared that a married woman should be “free from bodilie correction or stripes by her husband.” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_in_the_United_States#History)

  • 1850 - 

    Political agitation during the 19th century led to changes in both popular opinion and legislation regarding domestic violence within the United Kingdom and the United States. In 1850, Tennessee became the first state in the United States to explicitly outlaw wife beating. Other states soon followed suit. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_in_the_United_States#History)

  • 1870 - 

    By the end of the 1870s, most courts in the United States were uniformly opposed to the right of husbands to physically discipline their wives. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_in_the_United_States#History)

  • 1920 - 

    By the early 20th century, it was common for the police to intervene in cases of domestic violence in the United States, but arrests remained rare. Wife beating was made illegal in all states of the United States by 1920. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_in_the_United_States#History)

  • 1972 - 

    Women’s Advocates in St. Paul, Minnesota starts the first hotline for battered women. Women’s Advocates and Haven House in Pasadena, California establish the first shelters for battered women.

  • 1976 - 

    The National Organization for Women (NOW) announces the formation of a task force to examine the problem of battering. It demands research into the problem and money for shelters.

  • 1978 - 

    The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (a predecessor agency of the Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice) awards 11 grants to family violence projects to provide a range of services.

  • April 13, 1978 - 

    The Resource Center for Women and Their Families was established in 1978 as an outreach project of the Somerset County Community Mental Health Center in response to the felt need for such a program, particularly to address the problem of domestic violence. The Resource Center first opens its doors at the United Reformed Church, 100 West Main Street in Somerville, every Thursday from 1:00 to 9:00 pm.

  • April 13, 1978 - 

    The original mission statement read as follows: “The purpose of the Resource Center for Women and Their Families is to provide a comprehensive program to prevent domestic violence and to provide different services to meet transitional needs and situational problems.”

  • April 13, 1978 - 

    Service delivery is coordinated by June Petinelly on loan from the Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center, under the direction of a Steering Committee chaired by Jackie Wiegand, Coordinator of Consultation and Education at Richard Hall.

  • November 1, 1978 - 

    The Resource Center enters into a contract with Womanspace in Mercer County to provide shelter space for Somerset County residents. The contract for 4 bed spaces is $10,000 per year, funded by a State Law Enforcement Planning Agency (SLEPA) grant.

  • April 4, 1979 - 

    The Resource Center hosts a first anniversary dinner featuring Clara Allen, director of the NJ Division on Women as keynote speaker.

  • September 27, 1979 - 

    The Resource Center for Women and Their Families is formally incorporated as an independent non-profit organization.

  • May 1, 1980 - 

    Services provided are: General Support Group, Single Parent Group, Divorcing Group, Adolescent Girls Group and a Women’s Social Group. A typical month’s statistics: 91 calls, 32 in-person visits, 8 referred to shelter, 3 male callers and 14 incidents of physical abuse.

  • May 1, 1980 - 

    The Resource Center moves to 80 East High Street in Somerville.

  • October 1, 1980 - 

    The First National Day of Unity is established by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) to mourn battered women who have died, celebrate women who have survived the violence, and honor all who have worked to defeat domestic violence. Becomes Domestic Violence Awareness Week, and in 1987 expands to a month of awareness activities.

  • October 1, 1980 - 

    Lorna Farmer become the first Executive Director of the Resource Center.

  • October 1, 1980 - 

    Johnson & Johnson offers $3,900 to use toward a tape answering system, to replace the use of an answering service. Board members volunteer to respond to messages on an assigned basis.

  • 1981 - 

    The Resource Center begins a Safe Care Homes program. Two local households shelter women and their children for $10 per day.

  • 1981 - 

    During the fiscal year of October 1, 1980 through September 30, 1981, the organization provided 755 totals days of shelter to 41 women and 40 children.

  • 1982 - 

    The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is signed into law, providing for 72 hour restraints on batterers. Legal advocacy is started informally at the Resource Center.

  • May 1, 1983 - 

    The Shelter opens its doors. In the first full year of operation 2,405 beddays of shelter are provided to women and their children.

  • October 1, 1983 - 

    The Board expands the focus of the Resource Center to “providing services and facilities for the prevention of domestic violence.”

  • 1983 - 

    The Resource Center’s annual budget has grown to $167,375 supporting a staff of 14.

  • 1984 - 

    The purpose of the Resource Center for Women and Their Families is to provide services and facilities for the prevention of domestic violence and protection for those victimized by domestic violence; to provide services and facilities for crisis intervention and support in domestic violence situations, to produce educational and training services regarding the prevention and handling of domestic violence situations, to provide services and facilities for the treatment of those affected by domestic violence and other related non-profit purposes

  • July 1, 1984 - 

    Lorraine Cirello is hired as Acting Director while Director Lorna Farmer is out on leave.

  • 1985 - 

    The US Surgeon General issues a report identifying domestic violence as a major health problem.

  • 1985 - 

    The purpose of the Resource Center is modified, now including an intention “…to promote new services in response to emotional and interpersonal needs of men and children as well as women and other related non-profit purposes.”

  • 1985 - 

    A formal Legal Advocacy program is started at the Resource Center. The first Community Education Coordinator is hired on a part-time basis. The Volunteer Training Program is finalized.

  • January 18, 1985 - 

    Miriam Habib is hired as Executive Director.

  • November 1, 1986 - 

    The Resource Center is designated as the lead agency for Domestic Violence in Somerset County. This broadens our focus from “women abused by husbands and boyfriends” to “women abused by children, parents, and siblings, etc.”

  • 1987 - 

    Friends of the Shelter, an independent group of volunteers providing financial and material support to the Resource Center, is organized.

  • 1987 - 

    The Somerset County Prosecutor’s office issues Standard Operating Procedures for Domestic Violence.

  • May 1, 1987 - 

    In conjunction with other county organizations, the Resource Center sponsors the conference Linking the Systems – Responding to Domestic Violence.

  • May 1, 1987 - 

    The New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council on Domestic Violence holds hearings in Somerset County. The Somerset County Coalition for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is formed.

  • 1988 - 

    A New Jersey law requiring the police to make mandatory arrests in cases of domestic violence is passed.

  • 1988 - 

    The Resource Center trains volunteer Crisis Intervention Teams to work with the police in responding to domestic violence calls in Hillsborough and Bridgewater. These are the first such teams in New Jersey.”

  • May 1, 1988 - 

    Millicent Fenwick is the Honorary Chair of the Resource Center for Women and Their Families’ 10th anniversary celebration honoring Senator Wynoma Lipman.

  • August 1, 1988 - 

    The Resource Center moves to the Granetz Building, 205 West Main St, Somerville, our home for the next four years.

  • 1988 - 

    The annual budget has grown to $431,359 supporting a staff of 22.

  • 1989 - 

    Mary Skidmore Taylor becomes Executive Director.

  • November 1, 1989 - 

    Our first Candlelight Vigil is held to remember women murdered by their abusers.

  • 1990 - 

    The Friends of the Shelter hold their first Derby Day. This annual event goes on to become a major annual fundraiser in support of the Resource Center.

  • 1991 - 

    Art Therapy is added to our services. Our first Spanish-speaking counselor is hired part-time to provide outreach services.

  • 1992 - 

    Our Legal Clinic is started, and a Legal Manual is developed.

  • 1992 - 

    The Resource Center sponsors a Dating Violence Conference in conjunction with the County Office of Youth Services.

  • February 22, 1992 - 

    The inaugural Mardi Gras Gala is held to raise funds for the Resource Center.

  • July 1, 1992 - 

    The Resource Center moves to 95 Foothill Road, Bound Brook.

  • 1993 - 

    Joan R. Sulzman becomes Executive Director.


  • 1993 - 

    The first Fore Love Open Golf and Tennis Tournament is held to benefit the Resource Center.

  • 1993 - 

    Our budget has grown to $807,864 supporting a staff of 26.

  • 1994 - 

    Our first Transitional Home is opened, with four apartments.

  • 1994 - 

    The Federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994 is passed.

  • 1995 - 

    Collaborating with the National Organization of Women, the Resource Center hosts the national Clothesline Project at Raritan Valley Community College to promote awareness of violence against women.

  • 1995 - 

    Due to the success of the Capital Campaign, we “burn” the mortgage on our Transitional Home.

  • 1996 - 

    Our mission statement is streamlined: To prevent domestic violence by providing protection, education and resources to empower victims.

  • June 16, 1996 - 

    A popular fundraiser for a number of years, the Resource Center holds its annual raffle for childrens’ playhouses at Bridgewater Commons.

  • October 1, 1996 - 

    The Resource Center hosts a conference on domestic violence crisis intervention Working Together: Volunteers and Professionals.

  • February 1, 1997 - 

    The Resource Center moves to our purchased property at 427 Homestead Road in Belle Mead; counselors work from temporary offices in a trailer until renovations are completed at the end of September.

  • 1998 - 

    ADT/AWARE pendant alarm and 911 Emergency phone programs are developed with the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, increasing county resources for victim security.

  • 1998 - 

    Our annual budget has increased to $1,181,100 supporting a staff of 30.

  • April 1, 1999 - 

    The Resource Center organizes a successful statewide conference Healing Domestic Violence Trauma: Innovative Approaches for the New Millennium to provide advanced triaging for domestic violence professionals.

  • November 1, 2000 - 

    Cathy Cummings is named Executive Director of the Resource Center.

  • 2002 - 

    The Hotline now toll-free. Our first organization website is launched.

  • June 1, 2005 - 

    Paloma Amar Coleman joins Resource Center of Somerset as Executive Director.

  • July 31, 2009 - 

    Resource Center for Women renames itself Safe Horizons of Somerset

  • 2009 - 

    The Safe House provided refuge for 37 families (73 individuals) who stayed for a total of 1027 days while simultaneously receiving counseling, case management, and legal advocacy services. The 24-Hour Crisis Hotline responded to 3,682 calls.

  • June 10, 2011 - 

    A ceremony is held to rename the emergency shelter to Victoria House in honor of Victoria Mastrabuono.

  • May 1, 2013 - 

    Christine Morrell becomes Executive Director at the Resource Center of Somerset.

  • February 13, 2014 - 

    The Somerset County chapter of BW NICE is launched, naming the Resource Center as its non-profit partner.

  • June 1, 2014 - 

    The kitchen at Victoria House, our emergency shelter, undergoes renovations supported by the Friends of the Shelter.

  • October 1, 2014 - 

    Participated in the inaugural Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge.

  • 2016 - 

    Safe+Sound Somerset’s missions is updated “to empowering survivors of domestic abuse and engaging the community to end the cycle of violence.”

  • June 15, 2016 - 

    The Resource Center of Somerset is rebranded as Safe+Sound Somerset.

  • September 1, 2016 - 

    The Friends of the Shelter provide support to renovate and update the bedrooms and floors at Victoria House.

  • October 1, 2016 - 

    Safe+Sound Somerset’s clinicians begin to pvoide trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) to children from the ages of 3 to 17 who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events related to domestic abuse.

  • October 1, 2016 - 

    The first SPEAK Club was launched at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. SPEAK Clubs are student led organizations focused on raising awarenss of dating violence and domestic abuse.

  • 2017 - 

    The Friends of the Shelter celebrate 30 years of supporting Safe+Sound Somerset, having contributed over $2 million to support Victoria’s House 24-hour emergency shelter and other programs.

  • May 1, 2017 - 

    Our first clinician becomes nationally certified through a program of the University of Pennsylvanie to provide Prolong Exposure (PE), an evidence-based, trauma focused form of psychotherapy to help survivors heal from PTSD resulting from domestic abuse.

  • July 16, 2017 - 

    We hold our 25th Annual Fore Love Open supported in part by PVH, our presenting sponsor of 23 years.

  • December 3, 2017 - 

    Michele E. Boronkas joins Safe+Sound Somerset as Executive Director.

  • August 1, 2018 - 

    SPEAK: Antidote to Violence program is piloted in Bound Brook to assist elementary-aged youth in learning tools for healthy friendship and dating, contribuing to the prevention of becoming a victim or perpetrator of domestic abuse as an adult.

  • 2018 - 

    2018 Annual Report; staff; financials

  • 2019 - 

    1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be considered “domestic violence.” (The national intimate partner and sexual violence survey: 2010 summary report)

  • January 1, 2019 - 

    Our current services include: a 24-hour toll-free Crisis Hotline, Emergency Safe House, Legal Advocacy, Individual and Group Counseling for adult and child survivors of domestic abuse, Financial Literacy and Empowerment services, referrals for local batterers’ treatment services, Transitional Housing and training for allied professionals. In addition to direct client services, S+SS is committed to SPEAK™, our Community Education Program, which is designed with three main focuses: prevention, intervention, and knowledge.