Leadership – Hilary Platt

Hilary Platt was just trying to help out at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) of Southern New Jersey as a part-time intake worker. Instead, she found her calling.

“They gave me a 40-hour training in sexual assault and domestic violence so if we got those calls, I’d know what to do,” Platt says. After her training, she decided to volunteer as a domestic violence response team member.

“I committed myself to three different police departments and hospitals,” she says. “We’ll go there to help advocate for victims of abuse, give them resources and support, help them navigate restraining orders, and anything else they need.”

At JFCS, Platt built a thriving chapter of Project S.A.R.A.H. (Stop Abusive Relationships at Home), a statewide initiative that provides multi-faceted services to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. In addition to seeing hundreds of clients individually, Platt also started a JFCS support group.

“The group has members in their 20s all the way up to women in their 70s,” she says. “One woman said Project S.A.R.A.H. and the group literally saved her life. What more thanks do you need?”

Platt believes her job isn’t just to help people once they’ve become victims, but to stop domestic abuse before it starts.

“I speak to thousands of middle and high school students a year,” she says. “We try to educate the whole community. We’ll do presentations at veterinarian’s offices, because pet abuse and domestic abuse are closely correlated. I’ll talk to people at hair salons, at dental offices. The more you talk about it, the less secrecy and shame there is around it.”

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