Cut It Out Middlesex
Salon professionals are in a unique position to observe physical injuries on their clients’ heads, faces, arms, and hands -- signs that may point to domestic violence. So often, victims do not seek help. Salon professionals tend to build long-standing relationships with their clients, and may also serve as a client’s confidantè, offering a window of opportunity to intervene when domestic violence is made known or suspected.
With training from the District Attorney’s Office, hair stylists, makeup artists, estheticians, and massage therapists learn how to spot domestic violence and safely refer clients to community-based domestic violence service organizations. Through this program, we provide annual training to cosmetology students at the nine vocational high schools in Middlesex County as well as to students at Empire Beauty School and Elizabeth Grady. Trainings are also available to private salons upon request.
In addition, the program provides survivors from local domestic violence shelters with an opportunity to receive free haircuts and makeovers from high school cosmetology students trained in the program. Through assistance offered by students from the schools’ marketing education programs, survivors also “shop” for new complimentary business clothes to assist them in preparation for job interviews as they transition from emergency shelter to independent living. While visiting the high schools, survivors are given a free gourmet lunch prepared by the schools’ culinary arts programs. To date, Cut It Out Middlesex has trained over 2,400 salon professionals and students.
Domestic Violence High-Risk Assessment and Rapid Response Teams
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has played a leadership role in the development of nine Domestic Violence High-Risk Assessment and Rapid Response Teams (HRTs). Regional teams operate in Ayer, Cambridge, Concord, Framingham, Lowell, Malden, Somerville, Stoneham, and Waltham. The model places a premium on collaboration and information sharing among law enforcement, the courts, and community-based service providers. By using an evidenced-based risk assessment tool to conduct lethality assessments, team members identify, and respond to cases of domestic violence that pose the greatest risk for lethality. HRTs refine and tighten existing lines of communication among stakeholders. Recognizing that no one agency is capable of addressing the multitude of needs that victims present, HRTs value and rely on the areas of specialty that its members bring to the team. Such collaboration assures that optimal safety planning measures and service plans are effectuated without delay and with the highest level of quality.
Domestic Violence Pro Bono Attorney Program
For more than ten years, the Domestic Violence Pro Bono Attorney Program — a first-of-its-kind public/private partnership — has been providing high-risk victims with free legal representation at restraining order hearings. Since these hearings are civil matters, attorneys from the District Attorney’s Office may not participate, even in instances where there is a related criminal case. Yet, a restraining order hearing, especially one that is contested, and for which a defendant has retained counsel, can be a very intimidating and challenging experience for a victim of domestic violence. It is during these hearings, which often occur at a stage when a victim has only recently decided to leave an abuser and is most vulnerable, when representation and advocacy mean the most to a victim.
This program matches victims with established civil attorneys from our partner firms, including: Brody Hardoon Perkins & Kesten, Fish & Richardson, Greenberg Traurig, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein, Holland & Knight, Mintz, Pepper Hamilton, Rich May, Robinson+Cole, Ropes & Gray, and WilmerHale.
Goals of the Domestic Violence Pro Bono Attorney Program
- To provide victims of domestic violence with meaningful and effective legal assistance at restraining order hearings
- To protect victims through legal advocacy
- To assist victims who wish to leave abusive relationships
How does the Domestic Violence Pro Bono Attorney Program work?
High-risk victims of domestic violence are usually able to obtain a temporary restraining order at an initial hearing with little difficulty. The subsequent ten day order hearing, however, can present a far more difficult challenge, especially when the defendant contests the extension of the order and is represented by an attorney.
The prospect of being questioned by an attorney and having to testify in the presence of the abuser adds fear and anxiety to the emotions that victims of abuse are already experiencing. Many victims cannot afford to hire an attorney because they do not have access to financial resources, either because they do not work, or have not been allowed to, or because their abuser controls access to the family finances and assets. The Domestic Violence Pro Bono Attorney Program ensures that a victim who does not have the ability to hire an attorney will have the same right to representation as qualified low income victims and the same dedicated advocacy as the abuser.
Cases are identified by Victim Witness Advocates from the District Attorney’s Office and then referred to the firms after an internal assessment of eligibility has been conducted. Victims are then paired with attorneys from participating firms who provide representation at restraining order hearings in the various District Courts of Middlesex County. Training and ongoing support and communication are offered through the District Attorney’s Office and among the partnering member firms and attorneys.