Somewhere in Massachusetts on Sept. 15, a woman was bound with rope and had her feet doused with gasoline by her abusive partner – while relatives of her abuser watched.
When the abuser left the room, a relative handed the woman a phone. "She called 911 and is now in a safe place,'' an advocate for victims of domestic violence wrote. "She is incredibly courageous, but she is still extremely afraid.''
The harrowing incident of domestic violence was one of at least 763 calls made to domestic violence hot lines in Massachusetts that day, a day when groups working to eradicate domestic violence collect data nationwide to generate a snapshot of the intensity of the problem in the country.
The study, called the Domestic Violence Counts, found that 301 hot line calls went unanswered due to staffing shortages.
In Massachusetts, 49 centers participated in the study, including the unidentified center where a worker took the call from the terrified woman who was nearly set afire.
The snapshot showed that calls for services by victims of domestic violence escalated by 40 percent when compared to the number of calls recorded in 2008 on the same day, according to Jane Doe Inc., the Boston nonprofit that advocates for victims of domestic violence.
Also on that day, 30 percent more victims were being served compared with 2008 and 50 percent more men, women and children were being provided some type of counseling services, Jane Doe said in a statement released today.
“While Domestic Violence Counts provides a one-day snapshot once a year, the numbers show significant increases from 2008 to 2009 in requests for domestic violence services in the commonwealth that are consistent with what we are hearing from our member programs over the past 12 -18 months,” Mary R. Lauby, executive director of Jane Doe, said in a statement.
Nationally, the study found 23,000 hot line calls were made that day and that 9,200 calls for services went unfilled because of inadequate funding. The full Domestic Violence Counts 2009 is online at the website for the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
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