A Focus on Potentially Fatal Domestic Violence Shows Results

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February 28, 2012; Source: Boston Globe

A Newburyport, Mass. nonprofit reports encouraging findings from a program it began in 2005. In the wake of the killing of an abused wife 10 years ago, the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center formed the Newburyport Domestic Violence High Risk Team, guiding greater collaboration between local law enforcement and advocates for battered women in taking a proactive approach in cases deemed to carry with them an increased likelihood of fatality. Fatality assessments have long been a tool of battered women programs and coordination with law enforcement is also a staple of the work but this program appears to be showing real results.

The team has gotten involved in 106 cases since 2005. There have been no domestic violence-related killings in the area during that time, in comparison to eight deaths from situations of domestic violence during the decade before the program’s inception.

According to Geiger Crisis Center Executive Director Suzanne Dubus, the program works by ensuring that an abused woman is removed from dangerous situations and that she “doesn’t have to uproot her life in doing so.” The Center offers a detailed guide for those looking to replicate its program, which is available for purchase online here. The Newburyport approach has been implemented in 20 areas across Massachusetts, and now the Center is looking to promote similar collaborations across the U.S.