National research estimates that 85-90% of women in prison in the United States have experienced violence (domestic, sexual, and/or child abuse) prior to their incarceration. In addition to previously experienced trauma, for some women, victimization continues throughout incarceration, either at the hands of staff or other women. To reach the hundreds of incarcerated survivors in New Jersey, SAFE in Hunterdon has provided services for women housed at Edna Mahon Correctional Facility for Women (EMCF) for over 15 years in collaboration with the Department of Corrections (DOC).
Services include individual counseling, financial empowerment, as well as adjunctive therapy groups such as music, dance, and yoga, which offer survivors a chance to process and heal from traumas they have experienced. Survivors gain psycho-education on the cycle of violence, healthy relationships and coping skills, boundaries and communication skills, as well as explore past and/or present trauma processing associated feelings and emotions, and the importance of self-care and empowerment. Incarcerated survivors face unique barriers to healing, which are critical to address during the healing process as well.
SAFE in Hunterdon and DOC staff also collaborate on a number of educational and healing events throughout the year. Past projects include: Domestic Violence Quilt, which displays survivors artwork and poetry; music concerts and art galleries; community resource fair; financial empowerment workshops; legal advocacy workshops; a walk to raise awareness about the correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse; and The Clothesline Project.
In 2018, SAFE in Hunterdon and the DOC will be collaborating on an expansion of services being offered at EMCF and developing services at Mountain Youth Correctional Facility. SAFE in Hunterdon with guidance from New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault( NJCASA) provides consultation to the DOC regarding the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) when implementing SAFE in Hunterdon services at EMCF.
For more information regarding PREA go to: