We share this post as domestic violence awareness month comes to a close; however our commitment to ending domestic violence, honoring victims and standing in solidarity with survivor continues
October is domestic violence (DV) awareness month, and we were joined by local DV organization HarborCOV to discuss safety planning and challenges for survivors of DV in the current climate (e.g. immigration).
Key Points from the Discussion
- Participants shared feeling that state agencies and institutions don’t recognize abuse that is not physically violent in the way they need to (e.g. high standards of evidence like restraining orders).
- In the EA system, decisions are made for people in DV situations – these decisions can be fast, ill-considered and lead to a bigger mess afterwards.
- A lot of long-term state contractors toe the line, doing things in the interest of DHCD over families.
- Housing and a safe place to go can make a real difference in survivors’ ability to leave abusive situations.
Jasmine Pérez-Pimentel, Director of Programs and Services, and Uma Venkatraman of HarborCOV shared first about HarborCOV’s approach to DV as a social justice issue and working for creative solutions for survivors. They emphasized the importance of a fully supportive approach working with survivors, without ever judging.
The group brainstormed what DV is and can look like, to highlight the many ways abuse can take place outside of physical violence. Threatening self-harm, attacking self-esteem, isolation, and manipulation are examples of the many different ways abuse can look. DV happens in patterns/repeated acts, represented in the cycle of violence – different kinds of abuse (e.g. emotional, physical violence) all can go through the cycle of violence:
Image from delaware.gov
- Give power to the survivor & know their priorities for safety
- Keep parents with children (DCF)
- Understand shelter is often not an option for survivors
- In EA, sometimes couples with abusers are in shelter together
- Separate case managers for each person in a couple is something some providers are doing to build trusting relationships and to be able to really know families to be able to advocate for them.
- Sometimes it can be difficult to tell who is the abuser and who is being abused.
- Two options to know about for people with different immigration statuses:
- VOWA – self-petition option
- UVISA – option for some victims of crimes, including DV
- EA providers in the room were adamant about more trainings for staff around ICE and the current climate.
- One important tip HarborCOV offered: look into options around marking certain spaces as private, there is potential to limit ICE’s access to these spaces.
- Evictions because of DV are illegal in MA, but people with undocumented status are at risk of being exploited in this way.
- If you or someone you know is in danger, SafeLink is a resource for anyone affected by domestic or dating violence. The SafeLink toll-free number is (877) 785-2020.
- Simmons School of Social Work offers an online training course which provides an an overview of the essential knowledge about domestic violence