The YWCA of Western Massachusetts has received a substantial grant to fight domestic violence and sexual abuse.
The nearly $1 million dollar grant comes from the U.S. Department of Justice. It will be distributed over a three year period.
“It focuses on victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking,” says Mary Reardon Johnson, executive director of the YWCA.
The project provides the opportunity for the YWCA to develop policies and training that will enhance response to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Springfield public schools.
Reardon Johnson adds, “Sadly, the issue of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking is of epidemic proportions.”
The YWCA will be working with several groups and organization including police, schools, and the D.A.’s office.
“It’s a commitment on our behalf to combat against sexual assault against young people, domestic violence, and it’s really going to be about reporting more effectively through the Springfield school system and creating policy and dealing with it more effectively when it’s reported,” explains Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni.
Part of that focus will be on black women.
“Sadly, the rate of sexual assault among women of color is much higher than white women and the reporting rate is much lower and given our mission that is of particular interest,” Reardon Johnson says.
The YWCA is the largest domestic violence funded agency in Massachusetts, offering services to over 10,000 women, children, and families affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.