We have excerpts from the Domestic Violence Training Manual, SIMMONS School Of Social Work , Massachusetts NASW Committee on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault http://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=87567.0
It is eye opening to me to see all of the different types of resources available in the communities. Here is a short list and descriptions from the manual:911
If a person is in immediate danger of physical harm, they should always call 911 or their local police emergency number.Hotlines
Many times, however, survivors are looking for assistance and support without being in imminent danger. A hotline is a good resource for such instances. Hotlines are 24 hour numbers that are staffed by trained counselors. The counselors can provide emotional support, assistance with finding emergency shelter, safety planning, and information about legal options. Survivors can call anonymously and confidentially, although hotline counselors are also mandated reporters.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE provides safety planning, information, emotional support, and referrals to local domestic violence programs. Shelters
Shelters provide a safe place for many women and children to escape the violence in their homes. Most shelters will provide additional support services to the residents and community, including individual counseling, case management, support groups, childrenâ€™s services, and legal advocacy. Most shelters are funded to allow a stay of 14-90 days. These services are typically free.
The goal of a shelter program is to provide a safe place for survivors and their children to manage the crisis and begin to recover from the violence while they locate safe and more long-term housing.
Battered womenâ€™s shelters generally operate differently from homeless shelters because of the safety risks to the residents. Battered womenâ€™s shelters are usually located in undisclosed locations and have rules that residents must follow in an effort to maximize everyoneâ€™s safety. These rules may include not telling people where they are, taking a leave of absence from their jobs, and having no contact with their abusive partner. Additionally, most shelter programs will not take a family or individual from the communities that they serve, although they will assist them with locating space in another shelter. The reason for this is that it is easy for an abusive partner to track a survivor to the local program.
Unfortunately, shelter beds are not always available. Shelters may be full or, for various reasons, unable to meet the needs of the family. For example: many shelters will not allow a woman to bring a son over the age of 12; most will not accept adult male survivors of domestic violence; some are not equipped to accommodate certain physical, medical, or dietary needs. Increasingly, there are specialized programs to meet these needs.
If a battered womanâ€™s shelter is unavailable for any reason, it is important for you to identify with the person another place where she or he may seek emergency shelter.
Shelter bed availability changes from day to day. Sometimes if an alternate safe place can be found for a night or two, space will open up in a shelter. In some circumstances the survivor may feel safe, temporarily staying with family, friends or others.Safe Home Programs
Safe home programs are similar to shelter programs, but are very short termâ€”usually providing a place to stay for only a few days. Some of the safe home programs are designed to meet the needs of those survivors that the shelter programs can not accommodate. A safe home program will work with the family or individual to find another safe place to go at the end of their stay. Like shelter programs, safe home programs can be accessed through all the hotlines. Safe home programs are typically free.Hospitals and Health Centers
In the last decade, many hospitals and health centers have begun to establish domestic violence programs or hire domestic violence advocates.
These programs typically offer safety planning, individual and group support, and information and referrals. The staff of the programs also train the medical personnel on how to safely and effectively intervene with survivors.
Survivors can access these programs by contacting a hospital or health center where they have received medical care and asking to be connected to the domestic violence services.
The programs are usually free and confidential. Participation in the program does not usually appear in the survivorâ€™s medical record, although it is recommended that the survivor ask about this to be sure.Employee Assistance Programs
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) have also been developing expertise in working with survivors of domestic violence in the workplace. Typically, EAPs have been able to offer short-term counseling, information, and referrals to survivors. Additionally, EAPs can help with conflicts that might arise at work related to domestic violence and help a survivor develop a safety plan for the workplace. Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of employee absence.Police Departments
Many police departments have officers designated to follow domestic violence cases and/or civilian advocates stationed in the department. The domestic violence officer or advocate can assist the survivor with filing a police report for an incident, enforcing a restraining order, or following up on abuse incidents. In an emergency, a survivor should work with any police officer. However, after an incident, it is useful for the survivor to contact the domestic violence officer or advocate and update them regarding the situation. This allows for more consistent response by the police. If the abuser is a police officer, this resource may be compromised.Courts
Many people who have been abused seek support and protection through the district (criminal) and/or probate (family) court systems. Frequently, this takes the form of a protection order (restraining order) from the court.
Survivors of domestic violence can seek additional relief from the probate court in the form of custody and/or visitation orders and/or divorce. A few probate courts will have legal clinics at which a person can get free or low-cost legal advice for the day.
Survivors who are financially eligible may access a family law attorney through a local legal service agency. Such agencies provide free or reduced-fee legal assistance and often have attorneys who specialize in domestic violence cases. Shelters may also provide limited legal assistance around specific matters and/or have a listing of attorneys that provide free or reduced fees.Department of Social Services
The Department of Social Services (DSS) is the child protection agency in Massachusetts. A large percentage of the families involved with this agency are dealing with abuse between the parents or a parent and a significant other.
Although having DSS involved in a familyâ€™s life can be very distressing and scary for the survivor, DSS can often be a source of support as well. Sometimes, this agency is able to assist the family with accessing services that they might not otherwise be able to access. For example, DSS may offer assistance with accessing shelters, specialized counseling for the survivor and/or children, or a battererâ€™s intervention program for the batterer. Additionally, DSS may be able to provide funding for an after-school program, day care, or other child-related service, depending upon the specific needs of the family.
It is essential to engage in ongoing safety planning with the non-abusive parent when DSS is involved, as this intervention can escalate the abuse. Individual Counseling
Survivors of domestic violence benefit from talking with a safe, supportive person. There are many potential sources of counseling available. These include domestic violence counselors in battered womenâ€™s programs and licensed professionals such as social workers, psychologists, and mental health workers. Couple Counseling
Survivors often wonder if couple counseling would be helpful in ending the violence.
Sometimes this is the only form of help to which the abusive partner will agree. Often a social worker may not know if there is domestic violence. People seeking couple counseling often do not identify domestic violence as a presenting issue. It is important, therefore, always to interview each member of a couple separately, before agreeing that coupleâ€™s therapy is the appropriate form of help.
Couple counseling requires that both people be honest and open. In the case of domestic violence, survivors may face serious consequences for sharing information about the relationship. Alternatively, survivors may choose not to share vital information to protect themselves.
It is important that you recognize the real danger survivors face in their daily lives. If there is on-going violence in the relationship, couple counseling is not a safe option. Even if the abuse is not physical, there are risks to participating in couple counseling for the survivor. Support groups
Many survivors find a support group very helpful. Most battered womenâ€™s programs in the community, hospitals, and in mental health clinics will offer groups for survivors. Often these groups are free. There are some programs that will offer support groups in languages other than English.Rape Crisis Service
Some battered womenâ€™s programs are affiliated with a rape crisis center or also provide rape crisis services. Often overlooked, sexual assault within an intimate relationship is a very common occurrence. Some survivors may find it helpful to get support specifically around the sexual abuse they are experiencing. This can be done through a rape crisis center, if preferred, or a domestic violence program.Batterer Intervention Programs
There are many programs to which a batterer may be referred. Some of these are state-certified Batterer Intervention Programs. These programs use a group model to address the batterer's violence.
Groups usually meet over a period of 40 weeks. During this time, the abuser is engaged in a process of taking responsibility for their behavior and is held accountable for his actions by both the group facilitators and other group members.
These groups are offered in different languages and are also offered to lesbian and gay batterers.
During the first stage of the group, the survivor will be contacted by a Partner Contact. This personâ€™s role is to maintain confidential, periodic contact with the survivor in an effort to assess the current abuse in the relationship and to provide resources and support around safety. Immigration Services
Immigrant survivors of domestic violence may have difficulty finding appropriate resources. Frequently an immigrant survivor is more isolated as a result of language barriers, immigration status, and lack of knowledge about options and services in the United States.
Some battered womenâ€™s agencies are able to provide services in different languages.
It is strongly recommended that if there is any concern regarding the immigrant survivorâ€™s legal status, an attorney specializing in immigration law be consulted.