, Gloucester, MA

October 8, 2013

Editorial: 'Safe sites' project a practical step vs. domestic violence

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — It doesn’t take much to discern that cases of domestic threats and violence remain one of the true scourges in Gloucester, in other Cape Ann communities, indeed across the state and around the nation.

Just about any day, you can check the police notes in the Times and see at least one case of domestic assault. And while some might think those cases are more common in the heat of summer and around the holidays, or that domestic violence is fading with the growth of a new, better educated and more aware generation, consider this: One case this fall involved a domestic assault arrest by the city’s new resources officer inside Gloucester High School.

Virtually everyone, of course, knows it’s an issue that needs to be addressed — and there have been countless forums and speeches condemning domestic abuse both here and elsewhere. But no amount of talk can get through to some domestic batterers, and, too often, victims fear they have no place to rightfully flee to when the threat of abuse and violence rears its ugly head.

Now, a coalition of local advocates, the city of Gloucester and its Police Department are teaming up to take what seem to be some very practical steps to address that problem. The project — called Safe Sites – is designed to provide precisely that for victims and potential victims of domestic violence, whether in their homes in the street of elsewhere. And the effort, coordinated by the the Gloucester Coalition for the Prevention of Domestic Abuse, the North Shore YWCA’s Rape Crisis Center and HAWC — the Salem-based organization whose name stands for “healing abuse, working for change” — will be outlining Safe Sites in an event set for today at noon on the steps of Gloucester’s City Hall.

How will it work? The program is based on offering signs to businesses, public buildings and other institutions to offer public and temporary “safe sites” where people can go when confronted with domestic threats or assaults. Participating businesses and other property owners will place these “safe site” signs in their doors and windows, providing quick and accessible lists including phone numbers and other emergency contact information when an incident occurs, or is about to occur.

Will this project finally tip the scales toward ending all domestic violence? Of course not.

But it is indeed the kind of practical kind of help victims truly need and can utilize when needed. And we hope it gets the local support it truly deserves.