Billboards to advertise resources for domestic violence

Billboard going up for the month of April on Mohawk Trail near the rotary in Greenfield.

Billboard going up for the month of April on Mohawk Trail near the rotary in Greenfield. NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

Billboard going up for the month of February on Route 5 in Northampton, about a half mile from the Holyoke line.

Billboard going up for the month of February on Route 5 in Northampton, about a half mile from the Holyoke line. NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

Staff Report

Published: 02-07-2024 8:45 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Two billboards going up in prominent spots in Northampton and Greenfield will call attention to the prevalence of intimate partner violence in the community, offering phone numbers to call for help.

Staff with the Northwestern district attorney’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit designed the billboards and used grant funding to install them.

One billboard will start this week on Route 5 in Northampton, remaining up for the month of February. To mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, another billboard will go up near the I-91 rotary in Greenfield.

“I’m hoping the billboards will encourage people to come forward for themselves and for others affected by intimate partner violence,” said Katie Rosewarne, director of domestic and sexual violence projects. “It’s a way to provide a lifeline to people who may need it without escalating the situation, with numbers to call for support in large type on billboards.”

In 2023, a domestic violence team in the DA’s office identified 19 new high-risk offenders, bringing the total number of high-risk offenders to 368.

High-risk offenders are identified through application of evidence-based factors as individuals who present an increased risk of serious harm or lethality to their intimate partners.

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Advocates with the Domestic Violence Intervention Project last year provided crisis support for 121 survivors of abuse.

Rosewarne and Michelle Harris, coordinator for the high-risk team, worked together to create the design and messages for the billboards.

The Northampton billboard, located on Route 5 just past the I-91 overpass, is bright purple with the message “STOP VIOLENCE.”

The Greenfield billboard is a similar design with the words “Love doesn’t bruise.”

Both billboards prominently display numbers to reach out to NELCWIT (New England Learning Center for Women in Transition) and BHN (Behavioral Health Network), which provide domestic violence support services in the region.

“We wanted to have an in-your-face statement that we’re aware domestic violence is present and we’re here to support survivors,” Rosewarne said. “We know it’s an uncomfortable message and we expect people to have a visceral reaction to it.

“The billboards are meant to say loud and clear that the DA’s office and our community partners are watching and we are here to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable.”

The Northwestern DA’s office works closely with Behavioral Health Network and NELCWIT to provide support to survivors of sexual and domestic violence. BHN’S help line is 413 967-6241; NELCWIT’s is 413 772-0806.

The billboards were funded through a grant from the Violence Against Women Act’s STOP Formula Grant Program. The project does not necessarily reflect the views of the state or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.