RESPOND provides emergency shelter and a range of support services and educational programs to thousands of survivors of domestic violence each year including adults, children and teens (of all genders) regardless of race, religion, age or other characteristic. RESPOND staff work with survivors of domestic violence to address their immediate and long-term needs, providing emotional support, counseling, financial resources, 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 financial literacy, and the hands-on experience of advocating for themselves. Services are free, confidential and currently offered in multiple languages.
RESPOND’s Supportive 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, housing issues, divorce, custody, and education.
- Access to safe shelter and housing remains a primary concern for all survivors of domestic violence. RESPOND developed its housing assistance program to address the unique needs of survivors and fill the gap left by anti-homelessness agencies. Since implementing its program, 75% of RESPOND’s shelter residents have found long-term housing and had no need to ever return to their abuser. In 2016, RESPOND was awarded a $100,000 grant from Cummings Foundation to support its housing program.
- 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, and school supplies when no viable 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 Malden District Court 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 agency of the Somerville High Risk Assessment Team, Stoneham High Risk Assessment Team, Malden 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 training for law enforcement officials, healthcare professionals, local civic and religious groups, high school and college students and other human service providers.
- RESPOND has a Civilian Certified Domestic Violence Counselor embedded in the Malden Police Department. This partnership allows RESPOND to work directly with victims identified through MPD contact (police calls) and allows us to offer information and support related to restraining orders and a variety of needs related to domestic abuse. On-site, the Certified Domestic Violence Counselor can refer to any of RESPOND’s programs or another suitable resource in real time, in a safe, accessible environment.
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 location is kept confidential to ensure the safety of program participants. Services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. RESPOND’s eight-bedroom 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. RESPOND is proud to accept women and men (or any gender identity) into shelter as well as parents of teenage boys– a rarity in Massachusetts.