• Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S. Against Sexual Violence: Assisting Survivors in Hudson County

    While the topic of sexual violence has been pervasive in the news lately, 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


    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 8 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 by 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 # 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: 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 8 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.

    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 help line, contact Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S.’ help line 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 HobokenGirl.com. She started the site to discover the wealth of fun things happening in Hoboken and Jersey City and surrounding Hudson County areas. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event or #HobokenGirlHelps volunteer project, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog Pierre + rescue pup Finn, or watching some really bad {but oh-so-good} reality TV and ordering takeout with her husband.

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