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. Because they tend to build long-standing relationships with their clients, salon professionals 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
The Domestic Violence Pro Bono Attorney Program is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership that aligns high-risk victims with free legal representation for restraining order hearings. Since restraining orders are civil matters, the District Attorney’s Office has no legal standing, even in instances where there is a related criminal case. After recognizing that fewer than 50% of domestic violence victims returned to court to extend temporary restraining orders, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office reached out to the private bar to seek assistance in accompanying victims to court. The program matches victims with free attorneys from 13 major Boston Law Firms: Proskauer Rose LLP; Manion Gaynor & Manning LLP;
Brody Hardoon Perkins & Kesten LLP; Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP; Melick Porter LLP; Robinson & Cole LLP; Rich May PC; Holland & Knight LLP; Greenberg Traurig LLP; Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP; Fish & Richardson P.C.; Pepper Hamilton LLP; and Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP.
Although high-risk victims experience little difficulty obtaining temporary restraining orders at the initial hearing, the thought of appearing without an attorney at the subsequent contested hearing to request an extension of the order, can be overwhelming. The prospect of having to testify in front of the abuser adds additional fear and anxiety to what victims of abuse already experience, especially when the abuser has an attorney. Many victims cannot afford to hire an attorney due to economic deprivation, stemming from the abuser’s control over finances and assets. Victims who do not fall within 125% of the poverty threshold or, in some cases, 250% of the poverty threshold, are not eligible for free legal assistance programs in Massachusetts. The Domestic Violence Pro Bono Attorney Program, however, ensures that victims who cannot afford an attorney will have the same right to representation as low-income victims and guarantees that the abuser is not the only represented party at a restraining order hearing.
Cases are identified by Victim Witness Advocates from the District Attorney’s Office and then referred to the firms after an internal assessment 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. Extensive training is offered through the District Attorney’s Office. A team of highly-experienced family law and domestic relations attorneys, representing various organizations and legal service programs, serve as trainers and attorney mentors.