Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services
Domestic Violence Services and Sexual Assault Coordinator, Milta Vargas has put together information for victims of domestic abuse. All to often, one thinks of a beaten, broken, and bloody woman when hearing the phrase battered woman. However, domestic abuse involves more than extreme physical harm. Below are some helpful tools for understanding and getting help with Domestic Violence issues.
Know Your Legal Rights
Assault, including domestic assault, is a crime in Massachusetts. Victims can receive a restraining order at any time, including nights, weekends, and holidays, against their abuser. Victims do not need a lawyer to obtain a restraining order. A restraining order is a civil order that provides protection from physical or sexual harm caused by force or threat of harm from a family or household member. You can obtain an order against:
- A spouse or former spouse
- A gay or lesbian partner
- A present or former household member
- A relative by blood or a present or former relative by marriage
- The parent of a minor child
- A person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship.
How Do I Know It's Abuse?
You have been physically abused if another person has:
- Pushed and shoved you
- Held you down and kept you from leaving or getting up
- Bitten or choked you
- Hit or punched you once, twice, or repeatedly. This action may or may not have resulted in visible, physical injury
- Thrown objects at you that may or may not have hit you
- Abandoned you in dangerous places
- Refused to help you when you were sick, injured, or pregnant
- Raped or dragged you
- Threatened you with a weapon or used a weapon
- Stabbed or burned you
- Told anti-women jokes or said bad things of a sexual nature about women and/or treated women as sex objects
- Insisted on touching you sexually when you did not want to be touched, either when you were alone or when around others
- Committed cruel sexual acts or made you have sex with animals
- Constantly criticized you and called you names
- Told you that nothing you do is ever good enough no matter how hard you try
- Insulting to friends or family driving them away
- Refused to work or share money
- Often threatened to leave or told you to leave
- Threatened to tell your employer or family that you are a lesbian in order to get you fired or to have your children taken away
- Blamed you for any problems, real or made up with the children
What About My Children?
Whenever there is abuse or violence within a family, everyone is affected. Sometimes the physical scars heal more quickly than the emotional ones. Children can become loners because they can't talk with friends about the family "secret" or they don't fell free to have friends over. The may learn to become violent as they grow older or become batters themselves as this is the type of role model and behavior they saw at home.
Why Do Women Stay in Abusive Relationships?
Battered women stay for many different reasons. Some feel responsible for making the relationship work; they hope and believe that the abusive person will change. Others feel that somehow they caused and/or deserved the abuse; while some feel ashamed and guilty and do not want to admit that they are being beaten. Others stay because of the children or they do not have a job or enough money to support themselves.
There are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships. The issue is complicated by the fact that abusers can be loving, caring, gentle, apologetic, and persuasive individuals. Some women also feel powerless and helpless, having no place to go or no financial resources. But, there a number of places to call for support and help for women in the Springfield area.
- Springfield Police Department emergency, 911 or,
- Springfield Police Department Domestic Violence: 787-6355
- YWCA ARCH (Abuse & Rape Crisis Hotline), Springfield: 733-7100.
- Women's Shelter/Compaeras, Holyoke: 536-1628
- Necessities/Necesidades, Northampton: 586-5066
- NELCWIT in Greenfield: 772-0806
- Women's Services Center, Pittsfield: 443-0089
- Dept. of Social Services/Child Abuse: 800-792-5200
- S.A.F.E. (State Wide Domestic Violence Hotline)
877-785-2020 (TDY: 877-521-2601)
- Dr. Richard Zalowski, Clinical and Support Options, 130 Maple St., Springfield, MA
Should you need to contact the SPD Special Victims Unit for help, please call 787-6355.