Reprinted by LSCCI with permission of INDEPENDENCE HOUSE
An Agency Providing
Support for Battered Women and Sexual Assault Survivors
Independence House
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Information and Referrals
Information and Referrals
Referrals are provided through a 24-hour hotline, support groups, advocacy services and bulletin boards. Referrals are commonly made for community resources and benefit programs emphasizing housing, welfare and legal assistance. Many other resources are readily available including medical care, substance abuse programs, translation services and religious organizations (on request).

Education and Outreach
Independence House provides education and outreach through community events, media campaigns, educational materials and speaker programs. Activities include public speaking, in-service training, curriculum development, and interagency networking and collaboration. Presentations on identifying violence and making referrals are offered to court staff, legal staff, hospital staff, churches, civic groups and other helping organizations. Independence House works with the police to train officers on the battering cycle and options available to battered women. We work with schools to prevent abuse by educating students on dating violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment. Independence House participates on many local and state-wide task forces and committees working to improve community response to critical issues which also affect battered women including health care, housing, hospital services, legal services, drug and alcohol services, child abuse and child care.

Direct Services and Programs
Crisis Intervention and 24-Hour Hotline
A 24-hour hotline provides immediate response to any physical or emotional crisis as a result of abuse or sexual assault. Advocates can arrange for emergency shelter, police protection or medical care. The hotline is staffed 365 days a year, weekends and holidays. Individuals may also meet with advocates in person to discuss their circumstances, learn more about service options, or ask about the nature of violence or sexual assault.

Emergency Shelter and Support
Emergency shelter is available through an extensive coordinated safe home network; women do not stay at Independence House. Services are provided to help develop long-range safety plans, access resources and recover from the episode that may have caused the shelter stay.

Counseling and Support Groups
Short-term crisis counseling and support groups are offered on a drop-in basis. There is no waiting list or appointment needed to attend groups. Individuals are encouraged to participate in support groups as soon as possible to end isolation and for support during transitional times. Support groups are a way to learn from others and rebuild the self-esteem to achieve long-range goals. Support groups are usually specialized and include battered women's groups, incest survivors' groups and rape survivors' groups.

Although counseling is provided, Independence House is not a mental health facility. If there are mental health issues or substance abuse impacting an individual's ability to be safe, the appropriate referrals will be made. In any referral, the individual's decisions are respected.

Court Advocacy
Advocates provide education about criminal prosecution, legal rights and court procedures, including Abuse Prevention Orders under Chapter 209A (commonly called a restraining order). Advocates can also assist with Abuse Prevention Orders and court procedures.

Rape Crisis/Sexual Assault Program
The Rape Crisis Program/Sexual Assault Program provides individual and support group counseling to rape and incest survivors. Services are available for men and women, including adolescents and battered women; and for significant others, friends and family members. All issues of sexual assault are addressed including sexual harassment.
Advocates can also provide assistance immediately after a sexual assault by meeting survivors at the hospital or police station. An advocate can offer critical emotional support and help ensure the survivor understands medical or legal procedures, including options for pressing charges.

Non-Residential Transitional Living Services
Individuals are encouraged to maintain contact with Independence House after the initial emergency through on-going participation in support groups or arranged meetings with advocates to search out community resources. A workshop series offers educational training in areas such as family life skills, parenting, assertiveness training, job search skills and management. The series is open to the community.

Residential Transitional Living Services
The Transition to Independent Living Program (TIL) provides temporary housing and support services to help battered women and sexual assault survivors attain educational, vocational and personal goals. TIL residents pay a fee based on the Barnstable Housing Authority schedule.

Interpreters are available on-call for Spanish, Portuguese and American Sign Language. Independence House is wheelchair and TTY accessible.

Volunteer Services
Volunteer Program
Volunteers are only required to have sensitivity toward the individuals we V serve and a commitment to end violence against women. Both men and women participate; many former battered women or sexual assault survivors go on to support others as volunteers. The volunteer program is often praised for fostering an atmosphere of trust and recognition where volunteers can reach their full potential.
Volunteers complete a 12-week training session in preparation for one of many critical roles:
  • hotline: responding to crisis calls
  • safehome: providing temporary shelter for a woman and her children; all locations are confidential (safehomes are investigated)
  • court advocacy: helping with court procedures, including obtaining Abuse Prevention Orders (additional training required)
  • childcare: supervision and activities while their mother attends support groups *
  • transportation: arranging for transportation to court, welfare or housing offices
  • education and outreach: speaking to civic, church and professional groups about domestic violence, sexual assault, legal options and Independence House services (additional training required)
  • office reception: answering phones, taking crisis calls, typing, filing and giving support to individuals and families; processing intakes and advocacy
  • group facilitator: facilitating support groups.
  • Transition to Independent Living: working with TIL residents or helping maintain the building
Independence House administers the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DAIP) in cooperation with law enforcement agencies such as the Sheriffs Office and Probation Department. DAIP is a certified battered treatment program.

ABUSE - Abuse is a way to gain power and control over another person.

Abuse happens among all groups of people regardless of income, education, occupation, race, religion, age or sexual preference. Abuse can occur in any relationship. An abuser can be anyone including a partner or lover, teenage boyfriend or girlfriend, caretaker or roommate, son or daughter.

Any forceful controlling behavior is abuse. A woman does not have to be hit to be abused. Taking away her money, controlling where she goes, and what she does and making her feel bad about herself are all forms of abuse. An abuser may:
  • constantly accuse her of being unfaithful
  • prevent her from seeing family or friends
  • prevent her from working or attending school
  • criticize her for little things or humiliate her
  • steal her money, checks or credit cards
  • destroy her personal property
  • treat her like a servant
  • threaten to hurt her children or take them away
  • threaten to kill her, her children, family or friends
  • threaten suicide or threaten to leave her
  • embarrass or humiliate her with sexual taunts
  • sexually assault her, including unwanted touches or forcing her to watch pornographic movies
  • force her to have sex (rape her)
Violence may also be part of the cycle of abuse. Even if at first, an abuser is not violent- makes threats or pushes or slaps a woman- the violence may escalate enough over time to cause serious physical injury, or even death. Usually, violence occurs more and more often with greater intensity as time passes.

A woman is not the cause of her partner's abuse, no matter what she says or does.

Know that you do not deserve to be abused.
Trust you fear or anticipation of a violent eposide.
Establish a support system; have a safety plan.
Call the 24-hour hotline 1-800-439-6507.
Don't underestimate the danger.
Call the hospital or police if it does not jeopardize your safety.

SEXUAL ASSAULT, RAPE AND INCEST - Sexual assault is a crime of violence, not sexual desire.

People commit sex crimes in order to feel powerful and gain control over another person. Sexual assault, rape and incest are NOT caused by sexual desire.

Sexual assault is forced sexual contact of any kind from kissing, fondling, exhibitionism and voyeurism to attempted and actual rape- forced oral, vaginal or anal penetration by a penis or other body part, or a foreign object.

While most assaults are committed by men against women, either men or women can be assaulted by someone of the same or opposite gender.

Sexual assault happens most often between people who know each other. Forcing a date, lover or married partner to have sex is rape. Sexual assault may be part of an abusive relationship.

Any sexual contact by a parent, relative or caretaker to a minor is incest, including kissing, teasing, harassment, exhibitionism, touching, oral sex or intercourse. The Massachusetts Department of Social Services mandates that Independence House report child molestation by a relative or caretaker.

Sexual harassment is also a crime, including any unwanted sexual remark, sexually-explicit gesture, or sexual advance which is objectionable, causes discomfort, or interferes with work or school.

It is common for all forms of sexual assault to go unreported, or to be disclosed many years later especially in the case of rape or incest.

A sexual assault survivor is not to blame for the assault, no matter what happened.

Know the assault is not your fault.
Make sure you are safe.
Call the 24-hour hotline 1-800-439-6507.
If yu think you may report the assault:
  • don't bathe or change clothes; don't eat or drink
  • have a medical exam in a hospital emergency room within 48 hours
  • don't rearrange the scene of the assault; try to remember details and write them down

PHILOSOPHY - Empowering individuals through their own strengths and abilities

Independence House is committed to assisting individuals re-establish lives free of fear and violence through a philosophy of self-help and self-empowerment. Through positive reinforcement, we help individuals regain self-confidence and trust in others in order to initiate changes in their lives, thus developing strengths that will remain long after direct service has ended.

We believe each individual has the ability to make the best decisions for themselves and their family We help impart the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions and act on them, such as setting up a meeting with an advocate, arranging for childcare or enrolling in classes.

Information and access is shared through the ongoing support of advocates, groups and transitional living services. Many people learn from each other and a variety of educational materials and resources are available. We explain how to use the courts, welfare, social services, housing, and other community agencies in order to attain short and long-term goals. Self-determination and self-sufficiency are encouraged as a way for individuals to regain power and control over their own life.

Independence House is the only community-based resource center on Cape Cod providing a full range of services for battered women and sexual assault survivors. We accept all people regardless of race, origin, religion, age, income, marital status, lifestyle or sexual preference. Individuals are not required to press charges against an abuser or sexual assault offender to receive services.

Independence House is supported by full-time staff and volunteers. Services are free and confidential.

Independence House, Inc.
160 Basset Lane, Hyannis, MA. 02601
Phone: 508-771-6507
Fax: 508-778-0143

Independance House is an Equal Employment
Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

Member Agency
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United Way
of Cape Cod, Inc.

Reprinted with Permission

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