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In Massachusetts, officials aim for proactive approach to address domestic violence

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin was in Springfield on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 to announce a new grant program to address domestic violence.
Elizabeth Román
/
NEPM
Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin was in Springfield on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 to announce a new grant program to address domestic violence.

A new grant program in Massachusetts will look to tackle the issue of domestic violence through varying approaches.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin was in Springfield Wednesday to announce nearly $300,000 in funding for the Address Confidentiality Program run by his office.

The program, which protects relocated survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, by providing them with a new mailing address to use with state and municipal agencies, has been in existence for ten years. This year, though, there is a $100,000 grant component.

"This grant program is designed to be for the purpose of preventing domestic violence...beyond addressing the after effects," Galvin said. "We want to get to people who might be feeling they're in a potential relationship that could turn violent or indeed are abusers themselves."

Galvin said he is looking for agencies in the region who are already doing this work, but could use additional resources, as well as new programing specifically aimed at addressing the mental health needs of both victims and abusers.

"So often we've heard, unfortunately, the narrative of the abuser saying something snapped. That's not an excuse. That's simply not an excuse. But if it's true... [ with this grant funding] we can provide additional mental health services," he said.

According to theNational Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in 2020 nearly 34% of women and 32% of men in the state had experienced some form of domestic violence.

"It is about saving lives and it's not something that we can shrug our shoulders and say, it's a surprise because it's not a surprise. We know this is happening. We have the evidence of it, and we must do something," he said.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin (left) speaks with Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2023, across the street from Springfield City Hall.
Elizabeth Román
/
NEPM
Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin (left) speaks with Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2023, across the street from Springfield City Hall.

Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno spoke with Galvin after the announcement, thanking him for the additional resources. Sarno said the city has multiple approaches to addressing domestic violence — including partnering with agencies like the YWCA, the Behavioral Health Network, the Springfield Police Department and Hampden County District Attorney's Office.

"We work very closely with these agencies and these programs, but God forbid, when the domestic violence occurs, once the brave and dedicated police officers make that arrest, then we need the court system to back it up," he said, referring to individuals being released too soon after committing domestic violence crimes.

Sarno spoke on the issue just days after a man forcibly entered a neighbor's apartment killing her and himself, while also injuring two children and killing a family dog. While not a traditional case of domestic violence, Sarno said he takes the issue of gun violence seriously.

"We have spent millions of dollars knocking down derelict buildings, completely turning around sections of the city like the Hollywood section," he said referring to a neighborhood in the city's South End which was for many years riddled with prostitution, drugs and gun violence. "Now I need the courts and some of the judges to hold these repeat violent criminal offenders. You can't let them back on my streets and in my neighborhoods."

Sarno was slated to meet with community leaders and advocates Thursday to discuss ways to address the spate of gun violence in the city.

Elizabeth Román edits daily news stories at NEPM as managing editor. She is working to expand the diversity of sources in our news coverage and is also exploring ways to create more Spanish-language news content.

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