Cape Cod Agencies Receive $271,000 to Help Victims of Domestic Violence
BOSTON — Four organizations in Cape Town and the islands received state money last month to boost support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Of the nearly $3 million awarded to 37 organizations statewide through the Violence Against Women Act, Services Training Officers Attorneys (VAWA) STOP grant program, a total of 271 $400 was donated to Yarmouth and Mashpee Police Departments, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and Independence. House, a Cape Cod shelter for abused women and children.
Independence House helps victims of domestic violence on Cape Cod
Lysetta Hurge-Putman, executive director of Independence House, said her organization has worked with survivors of domestic violence for more than 40 years and funding is essential to keep its services free.
“We would never want anyone not being able to access services because they can’t pay,” Hurge-Putman said. “Our organization serves the whole of Cape Town, so our VAWA funds allow us to be able to provide services across Cape Town that other funding sources are unable to cover.”
Independence House, which received a $125,000 grant, helps victims of domestic violence find safety by counseling them about shelters and earning independent income, and helps them find justice through legal advice. Hurge-Putman said the level of need for these services has not changed, but the pandemic has changed the type of help people need.
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“We have noticed that the people we serve who are survivors of domestic violence have specific needs when it comes to safety, virtual services,” Hurge-Putman said. “We have continued to provide services with different types of security planning, for example with people who would normally come into our office who we now have to find other ways to work with them when they may be being in a situation that is not safe for them. ”
Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, which received $30,400 from the grant, helps people “unlock” during difficult times in their lives, said a Martha’s Vineyard resident who receives help from the organization. for about a year.
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“Follow up has been awesome,” said the woman who asked that her name not be used to protect her safety. The counselor she was paired with “doesn’t hang up the phone without saying, ‘When do you want to talk again?’ So you never really feel like you’re left hanging, that’s huge.
MVCS deserves this grant, she said, and should get more money so it can hire more staff and pay them more.
“The only problem I’ve heard of would be getting an appointment, but that’s the same as going to the vet, the dentist, anything here,” she said. “If they could pay them more to have more staff… I wish they could because it’s always the people who do this type of work who don’t get paid very well.”
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Organizations were approved for funding through a competitive process in 2017 and were required to apply for annual renewals. No new organizations have been able to receive funding since 2017, but the next grant application process should be competitive, said Elaine Driscoll, director of communications and policy for the Executive Office of Public Safety.
Yarmouth Police use their VAWA grant to fund a victims’ rights advocate
The Yarmouth Police Department, which received $62,000 and was one of 10 police departments in the state to receive money, is using its VAWA grant to fund a victim services attorney, currently Anne Catalano.
Catalano said the position allows law enforcement to connect with the public and help victims who may not be comfortable with their first point of contact being a uniformed officer.
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“I did trainings with the whole department more effectively to respond to these special types of crimes,” Catalano said. “To strengthen the relationship between the YPD and the community at large, I did this by attending community meetings, partnering with other agencies in the area and just being able to expand my knowledge resources available to victims and their families so that I can provide them with the most appropriate resources.
In 2021, Yarmouth police responded to about 400 calls for service related to domestic or sexual violence, Catalano said.
“We are lucky to have someone like Annie because in her position she is able to fill a void that a uniformed police officer sometimes cannot,” said Yarmouth Deputy Chief Kevin Lennon. “We are very pleased that the state will continue to fund this position because it is extremely important to our police department and the community as a whole.”
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Mashpee Police Receives Funding for Civilian Police Advocate
The Mashpee Police Department, the only other police department in Cape Town to receive funding through the grant, received $54,000 for its Civilian Police Advocate position.
The organization is grateful for the money, but admitted that more could be done with more money.
The issue of interpersonal violence is unfortunately going nowhere, said Jennifer Neary, program director at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.
Neary spoke about the disconnect between his agency’s mission and the image of Martha’s Vineyard.
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“I think there are people who have the mistaken impression that we are this tourist destination and that bad things don’t happen as much here, but domestic violence is a big problem here and every day new survivors or returning can request services,” Neary said. “So to have these VAWA funds and to be able to strengthen our collaborative relationships that improve the overall response for survivors, we’re really grateful for that.”
If you need help
Independence House services can be accessed through its website or through its 24-hour hotline at 800-439-6507. Martha’s Vineyard Community Services can be accessed through its website or by phone at 508-693-7900. The Yarmouth Police Department can be reached at 508-775-0445.