Domestic Violence Specialists

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

Domestic Violence Specialists funds the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) Domestic Violence Unit which provides services to victims of domestic violence who are on public assistance. This unit, established in 1999, consists of a specialist in each DTA area office.

Domestic violence does not just pertain to physical violence. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, financial, physical or sexual, and is defined as the use of power to control a relationship. The two stated goals of the unit are to assist families in living violence-free and to help support the broader DTA goal of helping families achieve economic self-sufficiency. Domestic Violence Specialists provide support and case consultation to TAFDC workers managing domestic violence cases. Specialists also support the family and advocate on the family's behalf both within DTA and with other agencies to connect the family to resources and to help with safety planning.

Certain welfare rules may be waived for victims of domestic violence if compliance may put the families at risk. Work rules, the time limit for benefits, the family cap on benefits and the teen parent school attendance requirements can be waived if the family applies for a waiver with assistance from the domestic violence specialist.

In a one-day census conducted in 2015 throughout Massachusetts, 52 programs reported providing services to 1,970 adults and children on a single day. On that same day, these programs reported 322 unmet requests for services. About 63% of these unmet requests for services were for domestic violence emergency shelter and housing. In 2012, a similar one-day census found that 54 programs provided services to 1,752 adults and children. Similar to the previous year, there were 443 unmet requests for services. Over 86% of these unmet requests were for domestic violence emergency shelter and housing.

According to the National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, domestic violence will affect one in three women. The annual cost of domestic violence is estimated to exceed $8.0 billion for direct medical and mental health care and indirect costs due to lost productivity. Every year, victims lose almost 8 million days of paid work, the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.

Updated February 2017

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