Today, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) announced that Sacred Heart University and University of Bridgeport will receive a $598,714 grant from the Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking on Campus Program. This Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) grant will increase prevention measures for domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking on the two campuses.   


“Domestic violence is one of the most fundamentally damaging acts affecting our society, said Congressman Jim Himes. “College students, especially students of color, are vulnerable to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. We have an obligation to protect our students, and I’m glad that Sacred Heart University and the University of Bridgeport have the resources they need to address this serious issue. I’d also like to thank the Center for Family Justice (CFJ), the Bridgeport Police Department, and the Fairfield Police Department for contributing to these projects.”  


According to Sacred Heart University, the $298,714 grant will go towards implementing a comprehensive violence against women project on campus. The project, in partnership with the Center for Family Justice and the Fairfield Police Department, will train community response team members on services available for victims, create a campus-wide awareness and prevention campaign, implement ongoing training for faculty and staff on culturally relevant responses to survivors from underserved populations, and increase direct services for survivors. 


“We are grateful that we’re able to continue our work with the Office of Violence Against Women,” said Sacred Heart University President John J. Petillo. “Over the past three years, the campus grant has allowed Sacred Heart University to strengthen our overall outreach and awareness related to the issues of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking through multiple trainings for faculty, staff, and students”  


“The grant has also provided us with the resources needed to update our policies, and create new documents and resource sheets for our students, and much more,” said Kristen Eschwie, Project Coordinator of the Office on Violence Against Women at Sacred Heart University. “We are so excited to continue this work for the next three years through this continued grant funding. Over the next three years, the OVW grant will allow us to grow our trainings and outreach to all faculty, staff, and students, and put a particular focus on the issue of stalking, and how to best support underserved populations.” 


"The Fairfield Police Department is excited to be partnering with Sacred Heart University and the Center for Family Justice on these very important grants to help reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking,” Chief Christopher Lyddy said. “These issues are all-too-prevalent in our society, and no more so is that true than on college campuses. We commend Sacred Heart for always being proactive in combating these issues for the health and wellbeing of all its students." 


According to University of Bridgeport, the $300,000 grant will be used to create a community response team to oversee the project, provide prevention programming including bystander intervention to all students, provide training to law enforcement on how to effectively respond to these crimes, provide access to 24-hour confidential victim services and advocacy, and conduct an ongoing training to all personnel in the campus disciplinary process. The project will be implemented in partnership with the Center for Family Justice and the Bridgeport Police Department.  


“We are honored to be awarded this three-year grant from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, said Stephen Healey, University of Bridgeport Interim President. University of Bridgeport is deeply committed to promoting a safe and supportive educational environment for our diverse student body. This funding will allow us to enhance and expand prevention and education programming on dating and domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, that is inclusive and sensitive to students with disabilities, international students, immigrants, and LGBTQ students. This project expands UB’s longtime collaborations with the Center for Family Justice, Bridgeport Police Department, and the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants.” 


“Domestic Violence comes in many forms and doesn’t discriminate against age, race, socioeconomic status or even gender,” said Acting Chief Rebecca Garcia. “The Bridgeport Police Department has always and will continue to be committed to combatting these types of incidents and in offering resources to the survivors.  Members of the Bridgeport Police Department will always be available to aide persons experiencing incidents of Domestic Violence when they are ready for help and seek justice.  Intimate partner violence and personal assaults are important issues that we will continue to combat, and with the support of this grant we look forward to educating and providing support to local university students.” 


“We are truly excited and honored to be awarded this grant so we may implement prevention education on campus with our stakeholders at the University of Bridgeport to create a safe environment and have a multi-interdisciplinary approach with inclusion of students, faculty and administrators to incorporate and deliver an all encompassing and inclusive program,” said Debra Greenwood, CEO and President of The Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport. “Our work with SHU has been extended for another 3 years with the OVW campus grant and we are looking forward to strengthening our efforts to prevent gender based violence on their campus.” 


According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, the grant intends to strengthen the response of institutions of higher education to the crimes of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campuses and enhances collaboration among campuses, local law enforcement, and victim advocacy organizations. Eligible applicants are institutions of higher education. Click here to learn more.