In Gloucester, for example, the city’s Police Department, the Essex District Attorney’s office and a coalition of service agencies — the Salem-based HAWC (Healing Abuse, Working for Change) and the YWCA North Shore Rape Crisis Center — kicked off a “Safe Sites” program two weeks ago, working with businesses and institutions around the city.
Under that program, local businesses are placing “safe site” signs in their windows, offering safe protection and access to help lines and other information to those who are being threatened or facing abuse.
That program is not meant only for victims or potential victims of domestic violence, organizer Sunny Robinson said last week, but the kickoff came during the city’s annual recognition of domestic violence, and domestic threats and abuse are a prime focus of the project. And in her annual proclamation, Mayor Carolyn Kirk said the Gloucester office of HAWC was contacted 2,911 times through its hotline over the past two years.
Penalties for repeat violation of a restraining order would also be increased under the new Senate bill, with new guidelines calling for sentences of up to five years in state prison, or up to 21/2 years in a house of correction.
The attorney general would also be authorized to enforce the new domestic violence work leave provisions.