THE WORK MEN DO
Ben Zeman works at Women's Protective Services, which is a combined Rape crisis/DV
agency in Framingham, MA. He is the
community educator, responsible for giving presentations for teens and adults on
issues of DV/SA, healthy relationships, and community responsibility to end
violence in families, on the streets, and in relationships. His job is to change the culture that tolerates and even
encourages this violence, and that blames the victims for the violence rather
than holding rapists and abusers accountable.
In what follows, he explains what led him tobecome involved in such work.
WOMEN'S PROTECTIVE SERVICES
WPS, a Framingham-based
program, provides counseling and advocacy to battered women and sexual assault
survivors. These services include a 24-hour emergency hotline, crisis
intervention and short term counseling, legal advocacy, support groups,
assistance with hospital and police procedures, a battered women's shelter, and
information and referral. These services are confidential and provided free of
charge. In addition, WPS conducts community education and a bi-annual volunteer
training program. WPS is funded by the Department of Public Health, the
Department of Social Services, the United Way, and WIN. For additional
information call (508) 820-0834. In an emergency, call the 24-hour hotline at
(508) 626-8686. Collect calls are accepted.
Women's Protective Services has three
units, the Domestic Violence Unit, the Rape Crisis Unit, and the WIN Haven
Battered Women's Shelter. All program staff participate in providing 24-hour
emergency hotline services, crisis intervention, and safety planning.
Domestic Violence Unit
The Domestic Violence counselors provide
individual counseling, crisis intervention, safety planning, assist clients with
locating appropriate support services such as housing, welfare, legal advocacy,
and facilitate support groups. The Victim Advocacy Program provides services to
victims in conjunction with the Framingham Police Department. In addition, The
Bilingual (Portuguese) Counselor-Advocate provides victim advocacy in the
Marlborough Probate Court on Thursdays as part of the Lawyer for the Day
Program. Staff participate in various collaborative efforts, i.e., Roundtable's
and Community Taskforces. All of the Domestic Violence Unit staff provide
outreach and education to community groups and train professionals on the
dynamics of an abusive relationship and the needs of the victims.
Rape Crisis Unit
The Rape Crisis Unit offers individual
counseling, support groups, and legal and medical accompaniment and advocacy to
victims of sexual assault. The Community Educator for the Rape Crisis Unit is
responsible for organizing special projects for the program, as well as outreach
and education about rape prevention, the effects of sexual assault, and the
needs of rape victims. The Rape Crisis Unit also runs regular educational groups
at the Pre-Release Program for the women's prison in Framingham, substance abuse
residential programs, and homeless shelters.
Win Haven provides a safe home for up to
five families. It is the only battered women's shelter in the MetroWest Area and
is one of the few handicapped accessible shelters in the State of Massachusetts.
Women and their children can stay in the shelter for up to 90 days. We provide
case management, counseling, advocacy, and a children's program for the
This past August we celebrated our 2nd
Annual Block Party with the participation of 30 community agencies. Our goal was
to expose our community to the resources that are available to them. We included
many educational events for children and teens, as well as food, live
entertainment, a magician, face painting, a theatrical performance and clown. It
was a great success, full of fun and information for the Framingham community.
The Teen Peer Education Program is
designed to raise awareness and give teens the opportunity to start talking
about dating violence and sexual assault. The program is being implemented at
Wayland High School. Juniors from the school are being recruited to participate
in an extensive training with WPS and will become Peer Educators. We have
developed training manuals that will be distributed to teachers and Peer
Educators. This fall we will be sponsoring two short plays about dating
violence, The Yellow Dress
and Hitting Home, at two local schools. The peer educators will have
the opportunity to design educational presentations and handouts, which they
will then use in the classrooms as they facilitate discussions on teen dating
violence and sexual assault.
Women's Protective Services has been
developing outreach into the African-American Community. On June 24, 1998, WPS
held the first event in the Women of Color Speaker Series on domestic violence
in the African-American community at the Sheraton Tara hotel. As part of the
project we developed an advisory board comprised of members from the Greater
Framingham Community Church, the South Middlesex Chapter of the NAACP, and Unity
First News. Patricia Smith was the guest speaker. We were able to raise
awareness and highlight the impact of domestic violence on the African-American
Women's Protective Services has also
been expanding outreach efforts into the Portuguese speaking community. As part
of the project we put together an advisory group of service providers and
community members, performed a needs assessment, held focus groups with
community members, designed a Portuguese brochure on sexual assault prevention,
and created a resource directory. WPS held a daylong conference on cultural
differences and sexual assault. The event took place on June 10 and was very
well attended with the majority of participants being Portuguese speaking.
This winter we will start a community based therapeutic group for children who have witnessed domestic violence. The Safe Home Program will provide emergency shelter for up to two families with a maximum stay of five days. We will be prioritizing women with boys over 12 years of age, Spanish or Portuguese speaking-clients, and teens 18 to 20 years old.