Conn. (WTNH) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Shelters across the state, including Interval House, will be spreading the word as they try to reduce intimate partner violence.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mary-Jane Foster was worried like the rest of us. But it wasn’t about the spread of the virus.
“On top of isolation, which is what an abuser likes to construct, we have all of the other stresses” said Foster who is the president and CEO of the Interval House.
Since the pandemic began, the Interval House has seen the number of contacts go up by 58% and the number of new cases go up by 25%.
In Connecticut, there are anywhere from 15-20 domestic violence homicides in a given year. Interval House, the state’s largest domestic violence intervention and prevention program, is kicking off their awareness campaign with the Jennifer Farber Dulos Memorial Walk: a virtual walk that you can do within your comfort level.
“We were honored that her family and friends thought that that was a nice way to memorialize her,” Foster said.
In May of 2019, Jennifer – a 50-year-old New Canaan mother-of-five – was last seen on a neighbor’s security camera after dropping her children off at school.
Jennifer, who would have celebrated her 52nd birthday this past Sunday hasn’t been seen since. Police allege her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, was “lying in wait” and attacked her at her home.
Dulos died in January 2020 after attempting suicide in his Farmington home after he was charged in Jennifer’s murder.
“The Jennifer Dulos case is gripping because it reminds us that domestic violence can happen to anyone,” Foster explained.
“It touches every community, every gender, every race, every socioeconomic situation. It really doesn’t choose,” added Amanda DeLaura, the director of development at the Interval House.
Carrie Luft, a spokesperson for Jennifer’s family and friends, said – in part – in a statement Sunday, “We are moved that Interval House is memorializing Jennifer is this effort to help others experiencing intimate partner violence. Jennifer’s case has received a great deal of attention, but the stories of most victims and survivors of partner violence are never told.”
While the virtual awareness walk is aimed at remembering those lost to domestic violence, the purpose is also to honor those who have survived it. Those like Barbie Nadal-Cristofaro who is now a social worker for Hartford Public Schools and a member of the Interval House’s Board of Directors.
“Just when you think there is no one around that you understand, Interval House provides you with the tools that you need to grow and to restore all their faith and all the hope that was once torn apart, and make you whole again.” Nadal-Cristofaro said. “And knowing survivors and thrivers is one of the great privileges of this work.”