AMHERST, Mass. - Undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Smith College School for Social Work and Springfield College are going to the State House April 28 to advocate for rape crisis services with members of the legislature.
Some of the women volunteer as counselor advocates for the 24-hour Everywoman’s Center Rape Crisis Hotline; others have used the rape crisis services and want House and Senate members to understand the importance of Everywoman’s Center, which is based at UMass Amherst.
Organized by the Massachusetts Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence known as Jane Doe Inc. (JDI), Advocacy Day is a chance for JDI to involve all state rape crisis centers in conversations with their local legislators about pending laws that protect victims of sexual and domestic violence and funding for services.
"Over the last two years, the Rape Crisis Services at the Everywoman’s Center has seen an incredible increase in the number of individuals using their services," says Becky Lockwood, associate director of EWC. Between 2008 and 2010, the center documented a 300 percent increase in the number of sexual assault survivors requesting support at the Cooley Dickinson emergency department and the University Health Services walk-in clinic. At the same time, the state reduced funding for sexual assault programs by 23 percent, she adds.