Wednesday, November 13, 2013

House Speaker DeLeo, State Rep Decker visit Transition House, meet with victims of Intimate Partner Violence

by @SarahCortes-Six victims of Intimate partner violence quietly told their stories to key politicians Monday inside the protected walls of Cambridge's Transition House shelter. In an effort to increase understanding in the wake of the Jennifer Martel murder/Jared Remy homicide case, State Representative, 25th Middlesex District (Cambridge) and Cambridge City Councillor @MarjorieDecker brought Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo and his staff into the heart of the facility. Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas and Detectives Joanne MacEachern and Beth Halloran, among others, also participated, dedicating over three hours to discussing root causes of intimate partner abuse and intimate partner violence. Det. MacEachern explained "the attitude of entitlement and the desire for power and control" over the victim that drives abusers. Representatives from Emerge, the nation's oldest abuser education program, which sprang from Transition House's work, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), the YWCA and Community Legal Services also participated. 

Transition House Executive Director Risa Mednick has met regularly since 2009 with Rep. Decker, Commissioner Haas and others to help improve understanding and combat domestic abuse. The second oldest shelter for victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence, Transition House has offered services to victims since 1975. The agency provides education, work opportunities, training and other resources to victims "to increase skills and foster self-sufficiency," according to Mednick. It also provides youth education, peer mentoring and counseling on healthy relationship development. State and local agencies provide about half its funding, according to its 990 form, while they rely for the balance on donations from individuals.

Rep. and Councilor Decker has served on the Cambridge City council since 1999. According to her website, she is one of only "13 women to be elected to City Council in more than 150 years." She initiated and chaired a city wide summit on Domestic Violence Prevention, and recently spearheaded a public awareness campaign.

House Speaker DeLeo, a Democrat representing Winthrop and Revere, has presided over the legislature as House Speaker since 2009, after serving as Chairman of the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means from 2005-2009. "I spent a number of years as a probation officer," DeLeo said, explaining how he was first exposed to domestic violence cases.

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