Below is a press release from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey:
BOSTON, MA — Attorney General Maura Healey recently launched an information campaign highlighting critical resources available for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AG’s Office created a dedicated webpage compiling these resources and partnered with the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) to create and distribute multilingual resource flyers across the state. The AG’s Office worked with the business community to display these flyers where survivors can see them—in open essential businesses that are still regularly accessed during the public health crisis.
“During times of crisis and especially now as people are staying home, we know that survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault are particularly vulnerable,” said AG Healey. “I want survivors and victims to know that they’re not alone and that help is available at any time during the COVID-19 crisis. We will continue working with service providers, advocates, and businesses across the state to ensure that these survivors have access to the critical support they need.”
“The strategies we have put in place to ensure the health and safety of our community have left survivors of intimate partner violence especially vulnerable,” said Liam Lowney, Executive Director of MOVA. “While survivors are quarantined in their homes, it is critical we let them know that they have options to keep their families and themselves safe. Massachusetts has a dedicated field of victim service providers who are working non-stop through this pandemic and are available to help them.”
While physical distancing guidelines and the statewide stay-at-home advisory are vital to slow the spread of COVID-19, they may make it more difficult for those who live with an abuser and experience intimate partner violence—including physical violence, sexual violence, or psychological harm—reach out for help. Social isolation has made it more difficult for some survivors to find the right opportunity to safely reach out for help. Survivors may not be aware that services and assistance are available, or it may be difficult for them to access those resources. Also, while now might not be the right time for some to leave, it’s important to let survivors know that help and support is available when they are ready.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, our biggest concern has been that people experiencing physical, sexual or emotional abuse have been isolated from the supports they need,” said Debra Robbin, Executive Director of Jane Doe Inc., (JDI), the MA Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. “Sexual and domestic violence programs across Massachusetts rapidly transitioned to offer remote support and services. Local businesses can play a crucial role in letting the public know that these programs continue to be open and ready to help.”
The AG’s Office created a webpage compiling resources, services and support available for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including the following:
- SafeLink, a 24/7 statewide domestic violence hotline and sexual assault referral line, at 1-877-785-2020.
- The Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance offers free resources for victims, survivors and providers at 844-878-MOVA or mass.gov/askMOVA.
- If you have experienced domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is also available 24/7. Text LOVEIS to 22522, call 1-800-799-7233, or visit thehotline.org/help.
- If you have experienced sexual violence, you can get access to confidential services, including a sexual assault kit, at no cost. Visit this site for more information and to find local resources in your area: janedoe.org/find_help.
- If you or someone you know has been the victim of a violent crime, you can get an application for the Victim Compensation program here. For help with the application, please call 617-963-2160.
The website also provides information on how to request an abuse protection order or harassment protection order and reminds survivors that these orders are still available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advocates have attested that the best time to reach survivors is when and where they are alone – away from those who abuse them – and usually during their normal everyday routines. The AG’s Office created a resource flyer, in conjunction with MOVA, to provide information in a quickly digestible format for survivors. The AG’s Office partnered with MOVA to distribute the flyers to various essential businesses by working closely with the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Food Association, the Coin Laundry Association, and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. The flyers are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese and Chinese.
“The Massachusetts Food Association and many of its grocery store members are pleased to support this important initiative of Attorney General Healey to distribute vital information that will provide access to information and services needed during these trying times,” said Brian Houghton, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Communications of the Massachusetts Food Association. “For everyone’s safety, please take advantage of these services as appropriate.”
“Coin Laundry Association is appreciative and proud of this opportunity to do our part to support the important work of Attorney General Maura Healey and the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance,” said Brian Wallace, President and CEO of Coin Laundry Association. “Raising awareness for the resources available to those vulnerable to domestic violence is vitally important especially given the unique circumstances brought forward during the COVID-19 crisis. The laundromat industry has always proven to be an effective channel for reaching local families with the information and resources they need most.”
“May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and never before has awareness and education been more important than in May 2020,” said Jon Hurst, President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. “We urge our members to be an important part of the public education effort to protect the survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault by displaying in store and virtually these resources.”
“We want to make sure that survivors of domestic violence or other abuse have access to assistance during this difficult time,” said Patricia M. Noga, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, Vice President, Clinical Affairs, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association. “We are grateful to join this initiative to help ensure that survivors can find resources where and when they are able to.”
Recognizing the increased risks that domestic violence victims and survivors face during the COVID-19 pandemic, AG Healey joined 24 attorneys general earlier this week in calling on the U.S. Senate to immediately reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which expired more than a year ago. The Act provides billions of dollars for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, as well as financial support to women in need.
Visit AG Healey’s COVID-19 resource page for information about how the AG’s Office can provide support during this crisis.
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