Holy Family Hospital

Family Safety Project

A drawing by a six-year-old girl. Her mother has been hit in the eye and is crying.

The Family Safety Project at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen is a comprehensive, multifaceted response to the crisis of domestic and family abuse. More specifically, our program is a seven-component (as shown below), pro-active intervention that seeks to provide safety for victims of domestic violence through community collaboration, training and education, prevention and outreach, and perpetrator intervention. The following is a brief overview of our services.

Batterers' Intervention Program

The Batterers' Intervention Program at Holy Family Hospital is a Massachusetts Department of Public Health-certified program that provides educational intervention to men who are, or have been, violent and abusive in intimate relationships. Our main objective is the safety of the partners and ex-partners of the men in our program. We also hope to monitor participant's behavior and collaborate with the courts, police, protective service agencies, and battered women's advocates to hold abusers accountable for their behavior and end violence against women and children. Currently, we offer up to twelve groups per week in four different locations throughout Northeastern Massachusetts. We offer daytime and evening groups, as well as groups in Spanish. The Batterers' Intervention Program at Holy Family Hospital meets, or exceeds, all certification standards set forth by Massachusetts Department of Public Health. We are pleased that our program has received national recognition for its efforts at helping assure victim safety. Program staff members also have been contracted by the Department of Public Health to consult in the training and assisting of certified programs throughout the state.

Children Who Witness Domestic Violence Program

The impact of domestic violence on children who witness it cannot be overestimated. The exposure to parental violence often results in behavioral, cognitive and emotional symptoms that require specific clinical intervention strategies. The hospital's Family Safety Project has been awarded federal funding by the U.S. Department of Justice (Victim's of Crime Act 1984 and the Violence Against Women Act) to provide clinical services to children ages 3 to 13 who have witnessed violence in the home. Our main goal is to provide a safe, therapeutic environment to counteract the negative effects of witnessing domestic violence. We also hope to identify and decrease symptoms associated with exposure to violence in the home, as well as to provide support and advocacy for children affected by parental violence.

Because we believe in a comprehensive/collaborative approach to helping children, a key component of our program is an ambitious outreach, consultation, education and training effort. All of our groups are conducted by clinicians who are specially trained in the area of domestic violence and its effects of children. Groups use supportive, educational and therapeutic techniques, as well as role modeling, discussions and presentations. Services are available for children residing in the Greater Lawrence area.

We are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the Children Who Witness Domestic Violence Program, please call program coordinator Michele Penta, MS, at 978-989-9361, ext. 10.

Specialized Clinical Services For Children Who Witness Domestic Violence

By virtue of a Massachusetts Department of Social Services grant, we have established a highly specialized program that provides clinical assessment/evaluation and individual treatment for children (ages three to 17) who have been traumatized by violence in the home. This program is a complement to our children’s program described above insofar as it enables us to provide a wider variety of comprehensive assessment, individual treatment and family consultation services in addition to the group intervention currently offered.

We are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, please call program coordinator Michele Penta, MS, at 978-989-9361, ext. 10.

Batterers' Intervention Certification Training

Holy Family Hospital is one of four programs in the state that are currently designated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as a certification training facility. This designation enables us to conduct certification trainings for agencies that wish to become certified, or individuals who wish to work within an existing certified batterer intervention program, or are just interested in domestic violence theory and intervention. Our certification training is a minimum of 24 hours and is conducted over a three-day period. It is a collaborative effort and involves experts from the fields of law enforcement, prosecution, probation, victim services and batterer intervention. We offer CEU credits for social workers and licensed mental health counselors. To date, we have trained hundreds of individuals including police officers, health care workers, protective service workers, probation officers, advocates for battered women, attorneys and clinicians in private practice.

Consultation, Education, Outreach

We believe that an essential component of any certified batterer intervention program is an aggressive education and outreach effort. Staff members of our program consult with a number of local and state agencies including, the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council, Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, Massachusetts State Police and Massachusetts Judicial Training Institute. Moreover, program staff members have provided training and consultation on domestic violence issues to a variety of local and Boston-based health care organizations, as well as to members of the Governor's Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Program staff members are sought after speakers, some of whom have conducted trainings, workshops and seminars in many states throughout the country. One of our staff is on the training faculty of the National Training Project of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (an internationally recognized intervention and training center in Duluth, Minnesota). Although we are always eager to provide supervision, training and consultation, we believe that it is our collaborative, "cross training" relationship with the local battered women's agencies that help us better assure victim safety. Program staff members are also active members of local domestic violence initiatives.

Hospital-based Victim Services Program

Through funding awarded by the 1984 Victims of Crime Act grant, the Family Safety Project offers consultation, intervention, advocacy and referral services to victims of domestic and family violence who present for treatment at our facility. We also provide the same confidential advocacy services to hospital employees impacted by abuse in the home. Additionally, we provide training, consultation and education to hospital staff to help them better identify, assess and intervene with patients affected by domestic and family violence.

Responsible Fatherhood Program

We have established an education program for fathers (both custodial and non-custodial) who wish to develop better parenting skills by learning the characteristics of responsible fathering. Weekly discussion groups are based on a foundation of victim safety and cover issues such as appropriate discipline and limit setting, child development, and abusive relationships and their effects on children. All program services are provided free of charge. Individuals and/or agencies interested in more information are encouraged to call 978-989-0607, ext. 10.

If you would like more information on any of our services, please call the Family Safety Project at 978-989-0607, ext. 12.

Family Safety Project Awards

Holy Family is one of the founding members of the Greater Newburyport High Risk Case Assessment team. 

This team has received both local and national awards for its efforts in assuring the safety of domestic violence victims.
In 2006, the team received the Essex County Anti-Crime Council's "Good Citizen Award" for our collaborative efforts to end domestic violence.

In 2007, the team received the "Spirit of Advocacy Award" presented by the National Network to End Domestic Violence in recognition of our work to provide a higher level of safety to victims of domestic violence.

In addition to team awards, our Family Safety Project has been recognized individually as well. In 2002, the "Morton Bard Award," presented by the National Organization of Victim Assistance, was awarded to Holy Family in recognition of our outstanding contributions to the victims’ movement. We have also received both the "Advocate of the Year" and the "Changemaker" awards from the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center in recognition of our efforts to end violence against women and children.


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