GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 9, 2013

City, agencies, kick off Safe Sites project

Domestic abuse is not a new problem, nor is it one unique to Gloucester or Cape Ann.

But activists rallied around how to fight it Tuesday during the city’s 13th annual proclamation of a domestic violence-free zone and the launching of new “safe sites” throughout the city.

“Gloucester is not a city that will look the other way,” said Nicki Richon Schoel, one of the chairs of the Gloucester Coalition for the Prevention of Domestic Abuse.

The coalition consists of advocates with the Salem-based HAWC — an acronym for Healing Abuse, Working for Change — as well as the Gloucester police and firefighters, the Essex District Attorney’s office, and members with the YWCA North Shore Rape Crisis Center.

In her annual proclamation, Mayor Carolyn Kirk said the Gloucester office of HAWC was contacted 2,911 times through it’s hotline in the past two years.

State Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, read a proclamation from Gov. Deval Patrick and noted that domestic violence or abuse knows no race, gender, religion, or economic status; it can take many shapes such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

“I’m honored to deliver this today to a community that has show that it is responsive, that it is aware and proactive,” Tarr said.

The Safe Sites program is designed create a safe, temporary public place for someone experiencing street harassment or other forms of abuse.

Sandra Monteiro, the new coordinator of the Gloucester HAWC office, said the group is dedicated to helping everyone who suffers from domestic abuse, they offer a number of different programs in a number of different areas in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Shaina Doberman of the YWCA North Shore Rape Crisis Center said the group accompanies survivors to court, and can help them prepare for the criminal just process and can help in providing medical care and support.

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