Aims to Increase Awareness, Find Solutions for Families of Survivors, Work with Communities and Local, State and Federal Leaders
BOSTON, Mass.— Building on her experience advocating for victims as a civil rights attorney and former prosecutor, Democratic candidate for Attorney General Maura Healey today unveiled her plan to target sexual and domestic violence and empower victims.
Healey is rolling out her plan today with visits to shelters in Boston and Worcester to talk to victims and their advocates.
As Chief of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division, Healey worked to provide victims of hate crimes with protective orders and worked with the Office’s Victim Compensation and Assistance Division to ensure those impacted could access services. As a special assistant district attorney in Middlesex County, Healey prosecuted domestic violence cases. During her time in the Office, she also worked to support the state’s first human trafficking law, which now serves as a model for other states. [pullquote]“Sexual and domestic violence is all too prevalent in Massachusetts,” said Healey. “Frequently, offenders target and prey upon the most vulnerable members of our society: young people, the homeless, the elderly, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. [/pullquote]
“Sexual and domestic violence is all too prevalent in Massachusetts,” said Healey. “Frequently, offenders target and prey upon the most vulnerable members of our society: young people, the homeless, the elderly, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. As Attorney General, I will work to empower survivors by improving our resources for them and I will reduce the barriers that prevent victims of these awful crimes from reporting them.”
Healey’s plan was put together with input from leading researchers and advocates for survivors of domestic and sexual assault including Nancy Ryan, a retired executive director of the City of Cambridge’s Women’s Commission and the co-creator of the Cambridge Domestic Violence-Free Zone Initiative, Lisa Goodman, a leading researcher on intimate partner violence and Professor of Psychology at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Ann Fleck-Henderson, a former Professor at Simmons College’s School of Social Work.
“Maura’s sexual and domestic violence plan takes a sensitive, victim-centered, preventative approach,” said Ryan. “It is thoughtful and bold, and exactly the kind of agenda we need to see implemented. I am proud to support her plan and her campaign for Attorney General.”
“Maura Healey has put forward a comprehensive plan to address sexual and domestic violence in Massachusetts,” said Goodman. “Her commitment to prevention, public education, and improving resources for survivors is exactly what we need from the Attorney General’s Office.”
“Maura has experience advocating on behalf of survivors of domestic and sexual violence,” said Fleck-Henderson, who taught and developed curriculum on domestic violence. “This far-reaching plan reflects that experience as well as her on-going conversations with agency leaders, advocates and survivors. [pullquote]“Maura’s sexual and domestic violence plan takes a sensitive, victim-centered, preventative approach,” said Nancy Ryan. “It is thoughtful and bold, and exactly the kind of agenda we need to see implemented. I am proud to support her plan and her campaign for Attorney General.”[/pullquote]
“Maura is committed to working with state, local/community, and federal leaders to increase awareness and ensure that police, prosecutors, court personnel, and educators do everything they can to prevent and effectively address domestic and sexual violence in Massachusetts,” Fleck-Henderson continued.
Healey’s comprehensive plan includes proposals to:
- Speed the processing of sexual assault evidence kits and toxicology kits, including through improved staffing and training at state crime labs and increased use of technology.
- Advocate for expansion of shelters across the state and invest in services like Sexual Assault Nurses Examiners (SANE), pediatric SANE, and legal services.
- Work with local, state and federal officials to improve prosecution rates for sexual and domestic violence crimes.
- Collaborate with the Family and Probate Court system to improve training and resources for advocates, court staff and judges in the system to ensure they understand, recognize, and respond to the signs and dynamics of domestic violence that may be seen in divorce, child custody or visitation cases.
- Partner with court personnel in the civil and criminal justice systems to improve training for advocates, court staff and judges to help survivors feel as safe as possible throughout the judicial process.
- Lead and participate in ongoing discussions with colleges and universities in the state to improve awareness, reporting, and investigation of allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence involving members of college communities.
- Prioritize sex trafficking investigations and prosecutions, partnering with federal and local law enforcement to improve information-sharing; and ensure that safe houses are available to trafficking victims.
- Expand domestic violence shelter beds in the state and work to provide access to beds for survivors of rape and sexual assault.
- Advocate for increased affordable transitional and long-term supported housing for survivors.
- Support homeless shelters throughout the state to ensure that residents are safe in their housing transitions and have access to domestic and sexual violence transitions.
- Lead public awareness campaigns about sexual and domestic violence and the ways in which communities can prevent violence.
“Domestic violence and sexual violence harm individuals in every community, in every demographic, and in every socioeconomic class throughout our state,” said Healey. “However, many people find it difficult to discuss these issues, and members of certain communities may be reluctant to report having been the victim of a sexual assault.
We need improve our outreach efforts to make those victims feel safer seeking help and reporting the crime.”
“It is imperative that the criminal justice system holds perpetrators accountable and that survivors of these crimes have access to much needed services. As Attorney General, I will work with communities to prevent sexual and domestic violence and advocate for victims.”
[From a News Release]