Baystate Domestic Violence Project Seeks Volunteers

SPRINGFIELD — The Domestic Violence Project at Baystate Children’s Hospital’s Family Advocacy Center is looking for volunteers to provide crisis intervention to victims of domestic violence treated at Baystate’s Emergency Department.

According to the Mass. Medical Society, a woman dies every 12 days in this state as a result of battering. Nationwide a woman is injured every 15 seconds. Approximately 1.5 million women are victims of domestic violence, and between 3 million and 10 million children witness domestic violence each year.

Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the thoughts, beliefs, or actions of a partner, friend, or any other person close to them. While domestic violence may cause injury, it also takes the form of emotional, verbal, mental, sexual, and economic abuse.

Domestic violence volunteer advocates are called to the Emergency Department at Baystate Medical Center when a patient has been identified as a victim of domestic violence and requests help. They will be trained this spring to understand the dynamics of abuse and to provide support in an empowering, non-judgmental manner. They will also provide advocacy and support by creating individual safety plans, making referrals, and, most importantly, caring about the victims of domestic violence.

Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, undergo a health screening, and complete a training process. Prior domestic violence experience is not necessary in order to take part in the program. Volunteers will undergo a brief screening process and complete an application, including a CORI check and references.

The volunteer training consists of an initial eight-hour session, followed by monthly educational seminars that will include meeting with other volunteers and further training. All training and monthly seminars will take place at Baystate Medical Center.

For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer advocate, call the Family Advocacy Center at (413) 794-9816.