Letter: DA Harrington's Task Force Reshapes Response to Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault
To the Editor:
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior one person in a relationship uses to control, humiliate and hurt another person emotionally, sexually, financially, or physically. Studies increasingly show that domestic violence is a primary cause of homelessness and poverty.
According to the Elizabeth Freeman Center, domestic violence exists at all socioeconomic levels. However, most victims who leave abusive relationships suffer an immediate drop in financial worth due to the loss of income, housing, employment, schooling, family support or childcare.
Domestic violence is never the victim's fault.
The last two years have seen two domestic violence murders in north Berkshire which rocked our community, one in North Adams and the second in neighboring Clarksburg. North Adams also reported a high rate of aggravated and sexual assault compared to the national average. Over the last year, city leaders voiced their concerns on this issue and held several community forums, rallies, and vigils. Groups were created to bring awareness, education and community outreach to solve the problem.
There is still much work to do, and the Berkshire County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force will be the catalyst to confront this crisis as a region. Led by the DA's Office, the Task Force has an ambitious agenda with a team of advocates, elected officials, law enforcement professionals and medical providers on board. This team is entrusted to secure resources, provide outreach, education, training, draft legislation, prosecute abusers and protect victims.
In recognition of Sexual Awareness month, there are 345 blue lawn flags on display at the entrance to the Elizabeth Freeman Center in Pittsfield. Each flag represents a person who received services for sexual assault in Berkshire County during 2018.
Sexual assault is never the victim's fault.
The newly formed task force is a reassuring response to this problem by District Attorney Harrington. It is an intentional renewal of energy and additional support to assist victims and survivors in our communities, neighborhoods, and families.
Marie T. Harpin
North Adams, Mass.
Marie T. Harpin, is a North Adams city councilor & member of the district attorney's Berkshire County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force