The sixth annual Union County Domestic Violence symposium is set to take place on Thursday, April 11 at Kean University's STEM Center in Union Township.

Union County Acting Prosecutor Michael Monahan said the topic this year for the symposium is "A Lethal Reality: When Domestic Violence Turns Deadly."

About a dozen panelists will discuss issues about domestic violence, highlighting some horrible cases in the county as well as their experiences, lessons learned and how best to educate the public.

The sister of a woman who was fatally shot by her estranged husband in downtown Elizabeth in 2010 will speak. Monahan said this was a heinous crime in which the man tracked down his estranged wife at the shelter she had been staying at with her two children and gunned her down on the steps of the shelter in front of the children.

He said this year's keynote speaker is Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell from John Hopkins University. She is a nationally renowned leader in research and advocacy in the field of both domestic violence and intimate partner violence. She has co-authored more than 230 publications and seven books on violence and health outcomes.

Her presence at the symposium is one of the reasons by Monahan calls this one of the most well-attended and comprehensive annual events of its kind anywhere in New Jersey.

"People know this is run by some of the experts in the field. The members of my own office are unfortunately experts from hard experience," added Monahan. It is such a popular event that it's already filled and registration is closed.

Monahan expects 300 people to attend the symposium.

In Union County, 15 to 20 percent of all homicides each year are domestic violence related, said Monahan. YWCA Union County Chief Executive Officer Janice C. Lillien said the more people understand the risks and resources, the more can be done to work together to present DV-related homicides and hopefully save more lives.

The symposium is being presented by the Union County Prosecutor's Office and YWCA Union County, co-sponsored by Kean University, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Elizabeth-based Family Children's Services and the Elizabethtown Healthcare Foundation.

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