Domestic abuse is a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior which can involve physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological abuse. It affects people who are married, divorced, living together or dating, and people from all social, economic, racial, religious and ethnic groups. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million people in the United States experience physical abuse by a partner every year. On average, one in three women and one in four men experience some form of physical violence committed by an intimate partner.
In 2020, Springfield Police officers responded to more than 8,700 calls for either a domestic disturbance and/or a domestic incident involving a weapon, which is more than 23 calls per day. So far in 2021 officers have responded to more than 6,500 domestic violence calls, which is more than 22 responses by officers each day. More than 10,000 incident reports involving domestic violence have been filed since the beginning of 2020.
The Springfield Police Department has a dedicated team of domestic violence advocates available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Milta Vargas serves as the Springfield Police Department's domestic violence coordinator/administrator. Vargas and Domestic Violence Advocates Jennifer Rivera and Sabrina Lopez work alongside detectives in the Special Victims Unit. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Domestic Violence Advocates are available 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Emergency Restraining Orders can be filed after 4:30 pm. when courts close and all day on weekends. If an advocate is not available, a Special Victims Detective can assist you.
"There is zero tolerance for domestic violence in Springfield, and there is always help available to those who need it. We are here to provide whatever kind of assistance or resources we can to support women and men who are victims and survivors of domestic violence," Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said. "I encourage anyone who believes they may be a victim or knows someone who may be a victim to reach out to our advocates and the other resources in our area that are available.”
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno states, “I am proud to stand with and support Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood, our domestic violence advocates and the brave and dedicated men and women in blue as we continue to offer whatever assistance and resources that are needed to support victims and survivors of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a serious issue and it is important to help bring awareness to the resources and services that are available. Our Springfield Police Department has a dedicated staff of domestic violence advocates to provide help and support to victims and I want to encourage everyone to share this vital and potentially life-saving information, and help educate and bring awareness as we recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month in our community.”
Signs of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is more than physical violence. The victim's partner may do things that make the victim afraid or isolate them from family or friends. Additional signs may include:
- Constant criticism of the victim and their abilities as a spouse or partner, parent or employee
- Overprotectiveness or extreme jealousy
- Threatening harm to the victim, or their children, pets, family members, friends or themselves
- Sudden anger
- Destruction of personal property such as personal papers and memorabilia
- Intimidation or manipulation tactics
- Physical violence such as hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, shoving, etc.
- Preventing the victim from going where they want to when they want to
- Forcing or coercing the victim into sex that makes them feel uncomfortable, embarrassed or ashamed
- Humiliating or embarrassing the victim in front of others
- Trauma can be caused by acts of violence. Traumatic events threaten our sense of safety. Domestic Violence doesn’t just affect you it affects your children and family.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence also notes that an abusive partner frequently denies or attempts to minimize the seriousness of violence and its impact on the victim and may be perceived as friendly and kind by others because the individual may be amicable and pleasant between abusive events.
- In an emergency, call 911.
- SPD Domestic Violence Coordinator Milta Vargas: 413-735-1519
- Senior Domestic Violence Advocate Jennifer Rivera: 413-735-1520, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Domestic Violence Advocate Sabrina Lopez: 413-735-1510, Monday-Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight
Advocates help with:
- Safety Planning and Risk Assessment
- Referrals to Community Services
- 209A Rights and Options
- Following up with Victims
- Facilitating Court Appearances
- YWCA ARCH (Abuse & Rape Crisis Hotline), Springfield: 413-733-7100
- Women's Shelter/Companeras, Holyoke: 413-536-1628
- Safe Passage, Northampton: 413-586-5066
- For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224. If you’re unable to speak safely, text START to 88788 or use the online chat option
- Department of Children and Families: 800-792-5200
- SafeLink is Massachusetts’ statewide 24/7 toll-free, multilingual hotline and a resource for anyone affected by domestic violence. SafeLink’s 24-hour hotline is available by calling 877-785-2020.
- Dr. Richard Zalowski, Clinical & Support Options, 130 Maple Street, Springfield: 413-737-9544
Know the Warning Signs
The Springfield Police Department wishes to share these warning signs to tell if you are in an abusive relationship.
Does your partner:
- Act very jealous or possessive?
- Try to keep you from having other friends?
- Tell you what you can and can’t wear?
- Put you down or say things to purposely hurt your feelings?
- Pressure you for sex?
- Pressure you to use alcohol or other drugs?
- Make you call and check in constantly or check to see who called you?
- Hit, push, kick or otherwise physically hurt you?
Information about safety plans can be found here, and you can find an interactive guide to safety planning here. A safety plan is a personalized plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave or after you leave.
Additional information about warning signs, services, shelter or safe havens and legal options can be found on the Springfield Police Department's website.