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Westporter Fights Domestic Abuse

Westport resident Elizabeth Juviler is a fighter. The chairwoman of Westport's Domestic Violence Task Force is not only fighting for the victims of domestic violence, she's fighting to eliminate it by raising awareness .

Last year, there were 113 reported cases of domestic violence in Westport. But those were just the reported cases.

"There were probably so much more," said Elizabeth, 39, explaining that many cases go unreported due to fear. "And those 113 cases are not just domestic violence incidents between husbands and wives: Domestic violence occurs between brothers and sisters, and parents and children, too."

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of age, race, religion or socio-economic status, Elizabeth said.

One-in-four women between ages 18 and 44 is in an abusive relationship, Elizabeth said. But the victims aren't just adults and young adults.

"One-in-four teens are in an abusive relationship and don't realize it," she said. "Domestic violence isn't always physical abuse. That's the part people don't see. If it's not physical abuse, they turn a blind eye and say, 'not me.' "

It's misconceptions like this that Elizabeth has been working hard to dispel by working with other town organizations, as well as Staples High School.

The busy mother of three has been head of the task force for about a year. And though she's an assistant coach of the Westport PAL cheerleading team, past president of the Westport Young Woman's League and a member of the National Charity League with her daughter, Elizabeth is 100 percent devoted to the task force and sees herself as the chair for many years.

"I've witnessed [domestic violence] and I want to put an end to it," Elizabeth said. "Without awareness and education, it's swept under the rug and that's unacceptable. I hate to think children [who witness it] grow up thinking it's okay."

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