Galvin: ‘We are facing a statewide crisis of domestic violence’

  • Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin AP FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL DWYER

State House News Service
Published: 8/17/2023 10:56:14 AM

Calling the spate of domestic violence crimes that Massachusetts has seen in recent months “a statewide crisis,” Secretary of State William Galvin announced Wednesday the launch of a new grant program that aims to make victims aware of the services and resources available to them.

The $100,000 Domestic Violence Service Provider Grant Program is funded through the fiscal year 2024 budget Gov. Maura Healey signed Aug. 9, and will be used to “spread awareness of the many services already available to those who have been abused, sexually assaulted, or stalked,” according to Galvin’s office.

“It is clear to anyone who has been following the news over the past year that we are facing a statewide crisis of domestic violence,” Galvin said. “This new grant program is targeted at increasing awareness, not only of this upsurge in violence, but also of the services available to those trying to leave an abusive situation.”

The grants will be administered through the Massachusetts Address Confidentiality Program, run through the secretary’s office, which protects relocated survivors of domestic violence.

“We’ve had a very successful program now for quite a few years, assisting people who’ve been adjudicated as victims of domestic violence to relocate,” Galvin said. “But that deals with people who’ve already been through the process. Obviously, they’ve survived and are trying to relocate. It’s become apparent to us, there are so many cases now where we have people who are still in relationships that lead to violence.”

The secretary said the new grant money will be “preventative,” compared to the existing Address Confidentiality Program, which helps survivors after they’ve gotten out of a crisis situation.

When he was sworn in for his eighth term earlier this year, Galvin said expanding supports for survivors of domestic violence was at the top of his to-do list.

He said in January, and repeated on Wednesday, that urgency has been added to the situation by a series of recent high-profile incidents.

“It’s become clear that, you know, we just can’t sit around and say, well, let’s wait for things to happen, hope the victim survives,” the secretary said in Springfield on Wednesday. “We have to do something to address what’s becoming a crisis. There’s not a month or week gone by really without some episode — at least every month we’ve had a new homicide or fatality throughout Massachusetts.”

He said he is hopeful the grant money will help reach victims before a crime occurs, or children become involved in the situation.

Nonprofits will be eligible for the grant funding, to help provide them with resources to reach those who may be in a violent situation and spread awareness of available services. Galvin also hopes to increase overall participation in the Address Confidentiality Program to help keep those who have already left abusive relationships safe.

Though the grant funds are only accessible through the end of fiscal year 2024, the end of next June, Galvin said he has “no doubt” that “more money will be coming.”

“I’ve talked to law enforcement and their hands are tied, they have to wait for a crime to occur. But they see the situation and they see the repetitive pattern here,” Galvin said. “It’s the same pattern over and over again. ... This is a new effort to try to reach out and do something preventative for domestic violence.”


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