To prevent domestic violence, listen, believe and refer
Date: 10/26/2011Oct. 26, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
HOLYOKE The primary message from the staff of Womanshelter/Compañeras is that domestic violence is preventable.
Consider the death of Jennifer Freudenthal of Webster. According to Jane Doe Inc., the statewide coalition against sexual assault and domestic violence, she “was allegedly murdered by her husband, William Freudenthal, less than an hour after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came to seize one of their cars for nonpayment of taxes. Police had to stand between William Freudenthal and the IRS agents so they could take the car.
“Afterwards police received two hang-up calls from a fax machine inside the home. When they arrived police found Jennifer on the bathroom floor with injuries to her face and neck. She was pronounced dead at Harrington Healthcare Hubbard Regional Hospital.
“Freudenthal stated to police that he and his wife argued, he pushed her, causing her to fall, and she hit her head. An autopsy was scheduled to determine cause of death. Police have responded to domestic violence calls to that address in the past. William was charged with second-degree murder and domestic assault and battery. He was held without bail.”
Up until Sept. 27, there have been 22 deaths this year in Massachusetts due to domestic violence a number of them this year were men killed by wives or girlfriends and Womanshelter/Compañeras has used the month of October designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month to tell people there is way out of a violent situation before it is too late.
The Holyoke-based shelter serves women and their families from throughout the area, and Executive Director Karen Cavanaugh explained to Reminder Publications
the economic conditions have made the shelter’s job more difficult.
Although the number of people seeking services has increased, the number of people in the shelter has not, she said. Cavanaugh said the reason is that women have to spend a longer time in the shelter because the economic conditions have made finding a place to live and job more difficult.
“The shelter stays full longer and it’s hard to take new people in crisis,” she said. “That was our struggle this year.”
The shelter’s staff found alternative resources to help these families, Cavanaugh added.
Traditionally a poor economy “makes it harder for people to leave a situation,” she explained. “It’s hard when the economy is good.”
Leaving an abusive spouse or partner is not easy, Cavanaugh emphasized. Education and public awareness is important to prevent domestic violence and to alert people to the services that are available to help them, and the shelter has been continuing its educational efforts in a variety of ways this month, she said.
Although this year presented many challenges, Cavanaugh noted that was bright spot in state funding. Over the past three years, state funding for domestic violence programs have been cut by 11 percent. With this budget cycle, the Legislature restored 3 percent of the cut funding, so now the shelter’s funding is down by 8 percent.
Cavanaugh stressed that domestic violence can be prevented and the best way for people to help someone they suspect is in a violent relationship is to “listen, believe and refer.”
Statistics have shown that when a victim becomes involved in program such as Womanshelter/Compañeras, the incidences of violence drops, she added.
For more information on their services, call the shelter at 536-1628 or on the 24-hour hotline at 877-536-1628.