Northwestern DA’s office receives $120K to support domestic violence victims

  • From left to right, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit members Katie Rosewarne, Joviana Rosario, Sandra Staub, Richard Aucoin, Erin Aiello and Mary Kociela. Kociela, director of domestic and sexual violence projects, successfully applied for more grant money to support the continuance of its Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP). COURTESY PHOTO/NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

Staff Writer
Published: 1/27/2021 10:14:57 AM

NORTHAMPTON — A $120,000 anti-violence grant awarded to the Northwestern district attorney’s office will support the continuance of its Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP), paying trained advocates who are available by cellphone to assist police responding to victims of domestic abuse.

The grant, which represents the final year of funding for the four-year Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Services Training Officers Prosecutors (STOP) program, was announced this week by the Baker-Polito Administration.

Mary Kociela, director of domestic and sexual violence projects with the district attorney’s office, said she applied for the money.

“This is a grant that we’ve been very fortunate with. We’ve been receiving it for about 20 years. The program has been in existence for about 25 years,” she said. “So, it’s not a new stream of funding but, nonetheless, since day one it’s been used to fund our Domestic Violence Intervention Project.”

Advocates provide domestic violence survivors with urgent assistance, safety planning and referrals to local services. They are hired by the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT) in Franklin County and Behavioral Health Network’s Valley Human Services in Hampshire County.

Kociela explained one or more victims need immediate help after police make a domestic violence arrest.

“The advocate can then be contacted right away by a police officer or dispatcher, and that advocate contacts the victim,” she said, adding that there is an advocate on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

She mentioned the advocate and the victim can typically go through options over the phone or at the police station, though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the interactions to remain over the phone for the past 10 months.

Kociela said the funding for the Domestic Violence Intervention Project will last through Dec. 31. She plans to apply for a new four-year grant in the fall.

The Domestic Violence Intervention Project is an early-intervention, collaborative program that combines the services of 45 police departments, five State Police barracks, two dispatch centers, three courts, two victim service providers and a certified batterer intervention program.


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