Take Action – Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention by: Katie Hatch

Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention

The Junior League of Boston (JL Boston) is committed to educating its members and the public about domestic and sexual violence.  The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) defines domestic violence as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse.  A 2019 survey of 48 Massachusetts programs by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) found that in a typical 24-hr period:

  • 688 adults and children were provided emergency or transitional housing
  • 1,169 clients received counseling, legal and other types of support
  • 442 hotline calls were answered, an average of 18 per hour
  • 441 service requests (e.g. for housing, transport, legal assistance, etc.) were unmet

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year has exacerbated this issue as a result of both increased confinement with abusers and constrained finances from lost employment.  Boston-area hospitals are reporting an uptick in the year-on-year average of intimate partner violence.  The Boston Police Department indicated that it had received a 22% increase in domestic assault and battery reports in March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, versus March 2019.

There are a large number of public services and non-profit organizations in Massachusetts that address various aspects of domestic and sexual violence.  JL Boston views its role as to increase awareness of the issue and of these local resources, as well as to support the latter in their objectives.  We brought together two of these service providers – the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) and the One Love Foundation – for the Solutions Summit that took place in February 2020.  BARCC’s mission is to provide free and confidential support and services to survivors of sexual violence and to advocate for change through the 250+ training events that they give each year.  One Love educates young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships in order to empower them to identify and avoid abuse.  When asked what The League can do to provide support, both organizations indicated that a critical function would be to use our platform and networks to inform others about their services and encourage their use.  

Therefore, next steps JL Boston can take include:

  • Using the JL Boston website and social media accounts to draw attention to local organizations that advocate for domestic and sexual violence awareness and prevention
  • Providing members with information about these local resources and keeping them up to date with any initiatives so that they may share this with their own networks
  • Continuing to offer training to members from local organizations both for the knowledge and tools as well as to be able to vouch for their quality
  • Encouraging members to identify opportunities in community placements to connect our community partners to these other resources
  • Responding to requests for volunteers at events like BARCC’s Walk for Change or for participation, such as nominating a student to join One Love’s Student Leadership Program
  • Facilitating inter-organizational collaboration by hosting panel discussions
  • Supporting members who may be dealing with these issues personally by posting contact information at headquarters for hotlines and other services that provide assistance

Suggestions of other actions that JL Boston can take are welcome!  Members are encouraged to send any thoughts to advocacy@jlboston.org.