RESPOND's Program and Services
RESPOND provides emergency shelter and a range of support services to thousands of survivors of domestic violence each year including adults, children and teens regardless of race, religion, gender or other characteristic. RESPOND staff work with survivors of domestic violence to address their immediate and long-term needs, providing emotional support, counseling, intensive advocacy, information and referrals. Through RESPOND’s programs, individuals and families in crisis develop the concrete tools necessary to regain control of their own lives—from parenting skills and housing search to literacy skills, and the hands-on experience of advocating for themselves. Services are free, confidential and currently offered in multiple languages. The Crisis Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All other Community Services are available Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm, by appointment and for walk-ins.
RESPOND's Community Services are available to all victims and survivors of domestic violence. They include:
- 24-Hour Crisis Hotline that provides emotional support, resource referrals, and information on legal options, statewide shelter availability and community resources.
- Individual counseling and support groups, which help survivors to define and meet their goals regarding safety, housing, employment, health care, legal issues, divorce, custody, and education.
- Basic Assistance that helps program participants to access necessities such as food, clothing, medication, transportation and temporary shelter through the provision of gift cards for grocery, pharmacy and department stores, 911 emergency cell phones, school supplies and hotel assistance to keep survivors of domestic violence safe when no viable shelter options are available.
- Legal Support that provides individuals with court accompaniment, assistance accessing legal aid services, and help with diverse legal issues including restraining orders, child custody, and immigration. Staff maintain a weekly presence in the Somerville and Malden District Courts and work closely with the victim witness advocate program run by the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office.
- Children's Services that help parents to meet their children's education, health care and out-of-school needs. RESPOND also leads parenting groups, literacy activities, and works to improve prenatal care.
- High Risk Assessment Teams designed to minimize harm or lethality to survivors of high risk domestic abuse cases by providing a multidisciplinary approach to coordinate a community response including: immediate crisis interventions and long-term stabilization of survivors of domestic violence and identifying, monitoring and containing high risk offenders. RESPOND is the lead is the lead agency of the Somerville High Risk Assessment Team, Stoneham High Risk Assessment Team and Co-founder of the Cambridge, Arlington and Belmont Team.
- Outreach and Education Activities through which RESPOND addresses the root causes of domestic violence via community education and outreach initiatives designed to raise public awareness about domestic violence, educate the community to recognize signs of abuse and promote healthy relationships. Staff commonly provide trainings for law enforcement officials, healthcare professionals, local civic and religious groups, high school and college students and other human service providers.
Emergency shelter has been the cornerstone of RESPOND's services since the agency's founding in 1974. Safe, confidential shelter remains a critically necessary last resort for survivors of domestic violence in grave danger with no other resources or available supports.
RESPOND's emergency shelter is located at a site known only to immediate staff and residents. Services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In Spring 2008, RESPOND moved the Enhanced Shelter Program to a new eight-bedroom home which enabled the agency to double program capacity from 11 to 21 individuals at one time. This home is the only area domestic violence shelter that is wheelchair accessible and ADA approved. Its spacious Children's Learning Center offers a safe, colorful play space and programs that promote learning, encourage parental involvement, and connect children and teens to local in- and out-of-school enrichment activities. The average length of stay for residents is 4 months.