Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Potlight on Portal to Hope

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. All month long, cities across the country have celebrated initiatives to raise awareness of domestic violence and to educate the public about prevention and intervention strategies. But as the month comes to a close, the fight against intimate partner violence continues. One local agency is leading that fight.

Portal to Hope (PTH) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 that serves survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in Everett and surrounding towns. It was founded by Deborah Fallon, herself a survivor of intimate partner abuse. According to its website, its mission is to “promote equality, respect for individuality and to help ensure that survivors live happy, healthy lives, safe from abuse.” Every year it provides services to almost a thousand individuals whose lives have been impacted by partner violence.

PTH works directly with individuals and families fleeing family violence by providing emergency shelter at secure locations. It collects donations on behalf of survivors through its Benevolence Project. Food, clothes, vehicles and cell phones are regularly gathered to distribute to those fleeing violent partners.

Beyond meeting the day-to-day needs of survivors and their families, PTH also offers confidential support groups and referrals to mental health professionals. It works with survivors to secure long-term housing, employment and legal aid to ensure their ongoing safety.

The youth programs at PTH are meant to inform young people about the dangers of dating violence and how to recognize potentially abusive behavior. In connection with the Everett Police, PTH offers a summer internship program for teens who want to become leaders in the fight against violence. Erin’s Project is another youth-focused program that works with teen girls who have experienced family or partner violence. The initiative works with girls to raise their self-esteem, teach them self-reliance and empower them to be leaders in their communities.

PTH also offers individualized advocacy for families of active and retired military personnel in connection with Hanscom Air Force Base.

PTH conducts community outreach and domestic violence education through its Speakers Bureau where survivors are encouraged to share their stories in public forums in order to increase public awareness about intimate partner violence. It also hosts a quarterly Domestic Violence Task Force.

In 1998, PTH partnered with the City of Everett and the Everett Police Department to form EVAPorate Violence, a pioneering law enforcement response team that has garnered national acclaim and has served over 5,000 individuals since its inception, with half of those being children. EVAPorate Violence trains law enforcement officials to swiftly and efficiently deal with issues of domestic violence and stalking. It offers legal aid and extended shelter stays to those fleeing family violence, and hosts violence prevention activities.

PTH is always seeking volunteers, guest speakers and partners in its Domestic Violence Task Force. To get involved, call 781-338-7678 or go to portaltohope.org.

If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, sexual violence or stalking, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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