Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden announced that his office has been awarded grant funding to increase access to services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the City of Chelsea.
The nearly $150,000 a year funding is being provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health through the COVID-19 Sexual and Domestic Violence Trust Fund grant for public safety-focused agencies.
The grant totals $149,540 per year and will allow the Suffolk DA’s Office to staff a Bilingual Outreach Victim Witness Advocate position within the office’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit. More than $60,000 will be subgranted to La Colaborativa to provide social services to victims of sexual and domestic violence who turn to the nonprofit for services ranging from food and housing assistance to job training and English language classes. This partnership will help increase access to information and resources specific to the needs of domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Chelsea and create opportunities for education and outreach in the Chelsea community.
“Crime victims are at the center of everything we do as prosecutors. Regardless of whether a survivor of sexual assault or domestic violence choses to participate in a prosecution, we are here to help connect them with the services they need and deserve. Many of the survivors we encounter find themselves struggling with daily necessities as they work to recover from the trauma and harm inflicted by sexual or domestic violence. This partnership ensures that every survivor has access to the services and resources they need, delivered in a culturally- and linguistically-appropriate manner. La Colaborativa is an incredible organization positioned to assist survivors with their most urgent needs and to connect them with partner agencies that specialize in serving the victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, potentially including prosecutors,” Hayden said.
This partnership allows Hayden’s office to distribute resources in a community that has experienced among the greatest impacts of the pandemic. The office currently employs 32 Victim Witness Advocates, with additional victim services staff expected to join the office in the coming weeks. Nearly a third of the office’s Victim Witness Advocates speak at least one language other than English, including Spanish, Cape Verdean Creole, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, French and Hindi. The addition of the grant-funded, Spanish-speaking VWA engaged in the Chelsea community will ensure that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are able to access the protections afforded through our state courts and other vital resources.
“Unfortunately, domestic violence and sexual assault are very present challenges in our community – challenges that have only increased in severity and frequency since the pandemic began,” said Gladys Vega, executive director of La Colaborativa. “We do our best to wrap around victims and support them on the road to survival, stability, recovery and empowerment, but this work is intensive, long-term, and hard to sustain without adequate resources. We are thrilled to receive this new funding to build our capacity in this area, and to strengthen our partnership with District Attorney Hayden’s office. I will be so proud to share the news with our members who often feel alone in their fight for justice. Together we will build a better system, able to meet the real challenges our people are facing.”
The victims of any crime, including domestic violence, should call 911 in an emergency. SafeLink, a statewide DV hotline, can be reached at 877-785-2020. SafeLink is answered by trained advocates 24 hours a day in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as TTY at 877-521-2601. It also has the capacity to provide multilingual translation in more than 140 languages.
Help is also available for members of our LGTBQ+ community experiencing domestic or intimate partner violence through The Network/La Red by calling 617-742-4911 or 800-832-1901.
Survivors of sexual violence can also call their local rape crisis center for free and confidential services and to discuss their options. Support is available for all survivors of sexual violence, regardless of whether they wish to take part in a criminal prosecution. Services by city and town can be found at www.janedoe.org/find_help/search.
In Suffolk County, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center offers a free and confidential 24-hour hotline at 800-841-8371. The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center provides medical accompaniment and many other free services to victims of rape and sexual assault. Suffolk victim-witness advocates can assist in referrals to BARCC and a wide array of non-profit service providers who can offer additional support and services.