How Massachusetts Survivors Outreach Got Started
By: MASO Staff
We are a grass roots organization based in Massachusetts who advocate for victims of domestic violence dealing with the family court system, aid victims in the healing process by providing holistic services such as evidenced based Energy Medicine, Reiki, Coaching, Stress Reduction, and Meditation, and research solutions to the growing epidemic of abuse in our society. We also blog about domestic violence in health care and healing from abuse.
Our organization started out by accident in the attempts by a few mothers trying to solve their own challenges with domestic abuse issues in Massachusetts. In our search for answers and solutions, we began helping other parents in healing and advocacy. As time went on we began realizing there is a bigger picture to the problem and began collecting data for statistics and writing about healing, publishing research articles on health consequences to abuse, and before we knew it, the organization took on a life of its own without any agenda except to figure out “why me”. We began to hear and see the evidence of countless cases of mothers losing custody to “documented” abusers. Some of these abusers were on the sex offender registry and some had countless medical documentations of child sex abuse that was ignored by the family courts.
In searching for answers to our own cases, we began seeing a bigger calling into finding the solutions to this epidemic. Yes epidemic. Until we went through our own cases, we were blinded to the severity of the injustices victims faced every day as well as blinded by the falsity that the current laws on the books would protect us and our children and failed.
The year is 2006, and our founders were faced with the scary decision to finally leave an abuser and to protect their children. The amount of courage it took to first admit that you are not to blame for everything wrong … admit you are a victim of abuse … to admit you did not deserve the abuse … was quite scary. Some of us even begged the police departments to not prosecute our abusers. One didn’t for several reasons at the time … Fear of financial ability to support the children if convicted and secondly a statement that was said that may sound familiar to victims currently being abused or victims who may have recently left … “He is gone. I do not want to prosecute, because I do not want to hurt him.” Completely disregarding the abuser not only physically, emotionally, psychologically, and financially hurt you but the children. It is a statement, many victims make whether to themselves or out loud. This is because of the gaslighting tactics many abusers do to strip the victim of any confidence, clarity, and free thinking. It takes time, with lots of support, help and healing to see the truth. However, in all these cases of abuse, the system failed to protect.
Here are some troubling statistics/facts in Massachusetts:
- Just in the last ten years alone, child abuse has doubled in the State of Massachusetts while funding to services and protections to victims of abuse have been slashed.
- The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services.
- There were fifteen victims of domestic homicide in only the first half of 2006, which was equal to the total killed in 2005.
- Nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men in MA have ever experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape.
- 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
- Nearly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men in MA have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lives.
- Approximately 1 in 3 adolescent girls in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner
- Batterers will gain custody of the children 70% of the time in Family Court. Those who sexually abuse their children gain custody at a rate of 85%
- Up to 80% of those diagnosed with mental health issues have a reported history of being a victim of abuse.
- In 2010, 51% of Victims of Abuse in Massachusetts, were unable to receive emergency shelter or housing.
- The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families receives more than 75,000 reports on child abuse and neglect each year.
- 2004 Study by Harvard University states, Family Courts in Massachusetts are failing victims of abuse and their children.
- A Plymouth/Brockton Family Court Judge has rendered some very troubling custody decisions in abuse cases and yet, he was the key note speaker the Fatherhood Coalition for incarcerated fathers on how to gain visitation and custody of their children in 2007 and has not spoken, taught or advocated against abuse. This judge also recused himself only three times in his career. All three cases were domestic violence cases..
The annual cost of ignoring domestic abuse issues and the way family courts handle domestic abuse cases? In excess of $6 Billion.
Learning about the severity of the problem in Massachusetts when we have young children at stake, empowered these parents to want to do more.
In an indirect approach, by focusing on the “other” cases for the answers, we were contacted by a local movie producer and a 20/20 reporter. At the time we were working with 13 cases that had too many coincidences in regards to the injustices to victims of abuse.
Even though nothing has yet to materialize as a result of those contacts, it gave us the direction we needed. By talking about our own personal cases, we were talking on deaf ears, but talking about numerous cases, now over 20, we solicited a response. We knew we were on the right path. To this day, we continue to march on with the research we are doing in this area and learning patience along the way.
The healing process also took on a life of its own. In searching for our own healing from abuse, these parents found ourselves healing others. One of them even discovered holistic methods of healing that helped escalate the healing process which was very freeing. No more are the blocks of being “stuck” and feeling like there is no hope to actual healing. Taking back our own inner power became a reality once more. This drove the need to look into “why” “how” and ultimately over time began doing various sessions for various domestic abuse groups with positive affirmations the impact these modalities can have in healing trauma or abuse.
One of our volunteers even wrote about the ABC’s of healing from abuse and trauma. We grew so big, but no place to call home, became a little scary, but knew those we are trying to help needed us and their need for us to help them gave us a motivation and calling.
In Jan 2011, we decided to offer our first meeting and were grateful to have renowned legal expert Wendy Murphy as our key note speaker for the evening talking about the legal system and abuse. We had advocates from various organizations, victims of abuse, and lawyers. It was a huge success. Wendy was amazing as usual and she also loved what we were trying to accomplish in our research and healing. With kind words of encouragement and wisdom, we took the leap of faith and moved the next step forward into forming into an official organization. We are grateful to Wendy for giving us the courage to move ahead.
We moved into our office space in June 2012 and started out of the gate with twelve interns with backgrounds ranging from business, economics, web, design, women and gender studies, psychology, sociology and law.
We became listed as a non-profit in Massachusetts. We created our mission statement and other organization formalities including a logo and branding. We created a facebook and twitter accounts and set up a website.
We partook in the legislative processes and rally surrounding Melissa’s Bill in July 2012 as well as several other pending bills with seven other non-profit organizations, lawyers, and legislatures.
We continued our research in the injustices victims of abuse are faced with in the state of Massachusetts and still working on this data as we speak.
We resumed our healing services in September offering a variety of healing services and classes including coaching, meditation, energy medicine, stress reduction, reiki, holistic health counseling.
In October, we launched a community awareness initiative in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and held three seminars on Gaslighting abuse, Recognizing whether it is abuse or just an argument, and Holistic healing for victims of abuse.
We have partnered and collaborated with other organizations of issues. We have engaged local leadership and other local organizations for support and allegiance. We have written about reiki on “Reiki can do no harm or can it”, regarding the election process, Commentary on Sandy Hook Tragedy, and we have a few more pending that we are working on.
Considering where we were six months ago and what we have accomplished, we have done so much and have come a far way.
We are an organization of action as we believe that actions speak much louder than words. We still have a long way to go, and we are extremely grateful to all our supporters who have helped us get to where we are today. Our plea to you, is to help us get to the next phase in our journey of helping others especially all our children who rarely have a voice in issues around abuse.
Please take a look at our 2013 Pending projects to see if you can help out, or volunteer and as always donations are greatly needed and appreciated.
We currently run with 100% volunteers and 100% community donations at this time until we can raise enough money to either become fiscally sponsored or become a 501(c)3 that will enable us to take our organization to the next level.
We are not a talk the talk organization but walk the walk every day and have a passion and commitment to create positive change and finding the solutions needed to a huge problem.
We currently have a higher demand than we are capable of currently meeting especially in our areas of research that involve the links between medical and legal issues.