BOSTON – Legislators from the Massachusetts Asian Caucus, the Black & Latino Legislative Caucus, the Caucus of Women Legislators and the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence hosted an event on October 17, 2017 to raise awareness around the distinct challenges that marginalized communities face when accessing domestic violence services in the Commonwealth. This event comes as a part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, with the goal of educating legislators and their communities about the unique domestic violence issues at hand for communities of color, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ, rural, and immigrant and refugee populations.
“Throughout my time travelling the Commonwealth, I have heard the horrific first-hand accounts of domestic violence across all communities and constituencies,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. “As we mark the 30th Anniversary of Domestic Violence Awareness month in the United States, the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence is working hard to improve prevention measures for everyone and enhance support for victims and survivors, while insisting on increased accountability for all perpetrators.”
The council and all of the caucuses involved are committed to ensuring that Massachusetts does not partake in the silencing of marginalized communities, but instead helps to aid and amplify their voices. At a time when overall domestic violence rates are decreasing, rates remain stagnant among many marginalized populations. The Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) rate for persons with disabilities is more than double that of their non-disabled counterparts, while risk of IPV homicide is four times higher for Black women in Massachusetts. Each marginalized community has a unique history and distinct culture, and it is essential to provide cultural competency in domestic violence services; offering the same services across populations does not bring equity, but rather reinforces the disparities already present.
“This event highlights the critical need for service providers and individuals across the Commonwealth to pay particular attention to barriers to access for marginalized populations,” said Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy), a member of the Asian Caucus. “Speaking as a member of the Asian community with many immigrant and refugee constituents, we hear often of the heightened risk, social stigmas, and unique challenges that face this community in situations of domestic violence. Many organizations across the Commonwealth have been and continue to do fantastic and innovative work to better access vulnerable populations, and this event provides a forum through which to share best practices.”
The event ran from 10AM -12PM on Tuesday, October 17th at the Grand Staircase in the Massachusetts State House. Senator Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Boston), Representative Keiko Orrall (R-Lakeville), Shavon Williams, Community Coordinator at Casa Myrna in Dorchester, B Bradburd, Director of Operations and Communications at The Elizabeth Freeman Center in Pittsfield, Stephanie Reynolds-King, Deaf Survivors Program Coordinator at Pathways for Change, Inc. in Worcester, and Tammy Mello, Executive Director of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, participated in the speaking program.