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Berkshire DA: Prevent and prosecute domestic & sexual violence

April 09, 2019 05:50 PM

PITTSFIELD – Since 1974, the Elizabeth Freeman Center on Francis Avenue has been a "front line and major safety net" to combat domestic and sexual violence, according to Janis Broderick, the center's executive director. So using that house, the new Berkshire County District Attorney announced a Task Force to take on that effort.

"Train people within the community to recognize the signs somebody could be a potential victim of domestic violence or a perpetrator of domestic violence to intervene prior to violence occurring," said DA Andrea Harrington. She was sworn-in on January 2.

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"We will be working closely with our victim advocates to ensure that victims feel empowered by this process and not re-traumatized and re-victimized," Harrington said.

Harrington announced a steering committee that will include the mayors of both Pittsfield and North Adams.

"Last year Berkshire County's rates of protection order filings by population were 36 percent higher than the state average," said Broderick. "The Pittsfield Police Department alone refers almost 800 cases to us every year."

The front lawn of the Freeman Center showcases 375 small blue flags that mark sexual assault victims helped by the center last year.

"My dream would be a day when there's no flags out here on the lawn but I think that it's an important visual that the community needs to see and recognize," said Jennifer Goewey, the shelter director.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To reach the Berkshire DA's Victim Assistance Advocates, call (413) 443-5951.

Credits

WNYT Staff

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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