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November 2, 2013

Stats show need for domestic violence team

(Continued)

In terms of victim safety, very few victims, — about 9 percent — reported being re-assaulted once identified by the team, while most victims — 91 percent — accessed domestic violence services. Only 6 percent of victims entered shelters for safety, with none doing so during the last three years.

For Dubus, knowing that more than 90 percent of victims are able to access the crisis center for services is a source of pride.

“It’s really gratifying,” Dubus said.

According to statistics compiled over the last eight years, 59 percent of offenders were held without bail awaiting trial, the majority of them through dangerousness hearings. Only 14 percent of all cases were dismissed and 78 percent of offenders were found guilty. Those facts, team leaders contend, point to a successful program that shifts the balance of power to victims and away from their abusers.

Crisis center chief of operations Kelly Dunne said in many dismissals, the victim invokes marital privilege which shields her from giving evidence against the offender. Without the victim’s testimony, prosecutors often don’t have enough evidence to continue with their case.

Still, Dunne said, the 14 percent dismissal rate is relatively low, speaking to the effectiveness of the crisis team and the center in general.

A separate report, based on fiscal 2013 data for the crisis center as a whole, shows that 24 percent of victims live in Amesbury while 12 percent of victims come across the river from Newburyport. Another 11 percent live in Salisbury and farther north, 13 percent come from Haverhill. Residents from West Newbury, Georgetown, Rowley and Groveland also visit the center but in far smaller numbers.

In all, the crisis center assisted 1,296 victims and survivors in fiscal 2013, a 2.9 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year.

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