• Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S. — Assisting Survivors in Hudson County

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    While the topic of sexual violence can be seen in the news often, it’s something that many individuals have dealt with on a personal level. In fact, in America, according to national statistics, every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted. For Hudson County residents dealing with trauma of this kind, Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S. is an amazing and invaluable resource. Located at 179 Palisade Avenue {across from Christ Hospital — located in the Behavioral Health Center} in Jersey City, Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S. is a non-profit organization that assists survivors of sexual violence with free and confidential services.

    This organization, which has been around since the mid-’90s in Hudson County, also provides a 24-hour sexual assault bilingual helpline. We got to sit down with Maria Parmagos, the Community Outreach Educator for Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S., who shared more about this important organization with us. Read on for an overview of Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S. below, in the hopes to help increase community awareness and detail all of the important offerings that it has for our communities.

    hudson speaks against sexual violence

    The Services

    Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S. services all genders that have been affected by sexual violence at any point in their lifetimes, run by just a small number of staff members of all different ages and backgrounds. The non-profit advocates for individuals who have experienced sexual violence and help them access services such as housing, but also provides individual and group counseling for survivors and their significant others.

    hudson speaks

    The organization provides referrals and accompaniments to police precincts, court, medical appointments, interviews with the Special Victim Unit, and other emergency assistance. “We also offer more holistic approaches to healing such as knitting classes and yoga,” Maria noted.

    The Helpline

    Additionally, Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S. operates the countywide 24-hour bilingual sexual assault helpline — staffed 24/7 by trained confidential sexual violence advocates. The advocates assist in crisis intervention, information, and referrals, and support anyone who has questions or is looking for information related to sexual violence. {FYI: The number is 201-795-5757}.

    “Since the Kavanaugh trial, our call volume has increased greatly,” Maria shared. Through this hotline, survivors can be seen ASAP. The hotline has multiple language options and is completely confidential.

    Read More: Facts You Need to Know About Sexual Assault

    Education and Prevention

    Beyond services for those in need, the Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S team works together with law enforcement to educate police officers as advocates, as well as how to appropriately respond to various situations surrounding sexual violence.

    The staff, comprised of a small number of full-time individuals, also frequently speaks at local schools, colleges, and other organizations such as the Jersey City Department of Education, Hudson County Community College, and Stevens Institute, sharing various information about sexual violence prevention and response. You may remember Take Back the Night, which Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S. is a sponsor of, was a powerful march through the Stevens Campus that dealt with sexual assault awareness.

    hudson speaks against sexual violence

    “Education is essential for people to be safe and be aware,” said Maria. “When we present to various organizations or at events, we discuss what gender-based violence is, and everyone works together. It’s interdisciplinary community action to get the word out and educate people on the issues.”

    Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S. works with both youth and adults, and Maria noted that they also work with the corrections population.

    Read More: Volunteering {in Hoboken}: A List of Organizations that Need Your Help

    Getting Involved

    If this type of work hits home for you or you just want to get more involved, there’s a way:

    There are 40-hour trainings to become a sexual violence helpline advocate, where you’d then be able to respond to 24/7 calls and assist sexual assault victims. Volunteers would become advocates, both via phone and face to face, offering emotional support and bound by confidentiality.

    hudson speaks against sexual violence

    If you’re interested in volunteering for the helpline, contact Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S.’ helpline and advocates coordinator Beatriz here: Beatriz.villatoro@carepointhealth.org

    “We are here for survivors, to believe survivors and give survivors a voice to speak up and out on sexual violence.” Maria shared. 

    From behalf of the entire Team HG to Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S., thank you for the important work that you do.


    If you are someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, please call 201-795-5757 to speak with someone from Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S. 24/7 – 365.

    Want to get more involved in the community — or know of a local volunteer, fundraising, or charity event in the Hudson County area? Submit to hobokengirlhelps@gmail.com and join our Hoboken Girl Helps Facebook group here.


    Written by:

    Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Hoboken Girl. She started the site to discover and share the wealth of things happening in Hudson County. Her roots in the area extend to her maternal grandparents, who owned two textile factories in Weehawken and North Bergen. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event/volunteer project or editing her life away, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog + rescue pup, or watching the latest murder doc on Netflix with her husband.


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