Doing What Matters

With Susan Gaits, Safe+Sound Somerset Volunteer

After settling in New Jersey 25 years ago, one of the first things Susan Gaits did was to become a volunteer for Safe+Sound Somerset, known as The Resource Center for Women and Their Families at the time. Although our name has changed a few times since then, Susan’s commitment to survivors has not and she remains a dedicated volunteer with us today.

In Susan’s words, “Intimate Partner Violence is much more prevalent than most people realize or want to acknowledge. Moreover, it can take so many forms that many people who experience domestic or sexual violence often don’t even realize they are being abused.  Safe+Sound Somerset helps adults and children when they are at most vulnerable by providing information, support, education, and tools that enable them to seek and find a better life. What could be more important than that?”

Susan also shared her experience working with Julia while working as a Legal Advocate:

(Trigger Warning: Story Includes Reference of Rape)

“I met Julia*, a high school student, and her father before her court appearance seeking a Final Restraining Order (FRO). Julia had been raped by a boy she had been seeing while visiting him in his home. The boy was appearing in court accompanied by an attorney. Julia was concerned because she didn’t have an attorney, nor did she want to defer her trial to get one as she was soon leaving for college. The trial was tough, especially the cross-examination by the abuser’s attorney, Julia was prepared and made her case. She spoke clearly, shared her evidence, and spoke convincingly about why she felt an FRO was needed. In the end, she was awarded the FRO.

When we met at the end of the trial, I could sense how relieved she was at the outcome. She was also proud about standing up for herself and confronting her abuser, with strength and clarity, in a very public arena about the rape.”

We are so grateful to Susan for her 25 years of allegiance to the mission of Safe+Sound Somerset, and her impact on the lives of so many, many survivors, like Julia!

*The details of our stories are real and belong to them and their children, however identifying details and photos used do not. To protect their privacy, pseudonyms and stock imagery are used.

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