Local Domestic Violence Service Providers Reach Out to Community in Peabody as They Mourn the Death of Elisete Benevides
January 29, 2016
Area organizations that provide advocacy and services addressing domestic violence expressed great sadness this week following the violent death of Elisete Benevides, a 51-year-old Brazilian woman who lived in Peabody. Elisete, or Liza as she was known, was allegedly stabbed to death in her home this past Tuesday by her ex-boyfriend, 50-year-old Gelcino Souza Oliveira, of Beverly. Police also found Oliveira dead of apparently self-inflicted stab wounds in what authorities were investigating as a murder-suicide.
In this first month of 2016, three women have already been murdered as a result of domestic violence in Massachusetts, according to Jane Doe Inc., the statewide coalition against sexual assault and domestic violence.
“We were horrified to learn of this latest tragic event, and we offer our condolences and complete support to Elisete’s family, friends and loved ones,” said Paulo Pinto, MPA, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS). “Ending the cycle of domestic violence is an uphill battle that requires everyone’s involvement and dedication.”
MAPS, a multi-service nonprofit organization serving Brazilians and other Portuguese speakers in greater Boston and beyond, has joined forces with Healing Abuse Working for Change (HAWC), the North Shore’s main domestic violence service provider for all populations, and Jane Doe Inc. to reach out and support the community and law enforcement authorities in Peabody.
“We’re working with area residents and religious leaders to offer assistance and inform the local Portuguese-speaking community about all the resources and organizations that are here to help domestic violence survivors throughout the state,” said Dulce Ferreira, MA, MAPS Director of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services.
Anthony DiPietro, Executive Director of HAWC, said, “Our hearts go out to the family near and far who are affected by this tragedy, and to those here in our community who are grieving. We want everyone to know that HAWC is a resource for those facing abuse, and their loved ones and survivors – and that we provide services in Portuguese, Spanish and English.
HAWC provides comprehensive services for domestic violence survivors including a 24-hour hotline, outreach, advocacy and other individual assistance, emergency shelter, support groups and more in 23 cities and towns. MAPS’ domestic violence and sexual assault services include outreach, advocacy, individual assistance, support groups and other initiatives—part of a full range of culturally and linguistically competent health and social programs targeting the Portuguese-speaking community in Greater Boston, Lowell and Framingham.
Ferreira pointed out that many immigrants, regardless of background, face major linguistic and cultural barriers to seeking assistance in cases of domestic violence. They also lack knowledge about the American legal system and their rights, and—perhaps more so than American-born domestic violence survivors—are often financially dependent on their abusers, which may keep them from asking for help.
“National research shows that connecting with a domestic violence program helps protect those at highest risk,” added Ferreira. “That’s why it’s extremely important for MAPS, HAWC and other organizations in this field to work tirelessly on educating and informing our communities.”
Toni K. Troop, spokesperson for the statewide sexual and domestic violence coalition Jane Doe Inc., said, “While it’s too early to call this a trend, we are alarmed that there have been three domestic violence related homicides in the first few weeks of the year. We must turn our grieving into action through a concerted effort that involves the entire community – from family and friends to our faith institutions, police and other systems – to take concrete steps to support survivors and hold offenders accountable.”
Jane Doe Inc.’s website (www.janedoe.org) provides a useful list of resources and organizations all throughout the state, including MAPS and HAWC, that provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information, guided referrals, medical and legal advocacy, supportive listening and other services to victims and survivors of domestic violence. In Massachusetts, the Domestic Violence SafeLink provides a 24-hour multilingual hotline (877-785-2020, TTY: 1-877-521-2601).
“If you are experiencing domestic violence or see it in your community, please call MAPS, HAWC, SafeLink or another provider you know for help,” said Ferreira. “And if someone is in immediate danger, call 911 right away.”
To learn more about these organizations, please contact:
· Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS): Offices in Cambridge, Somerville, Dorchester, Lowell, Brighton and Framingham. Telephone: 617-864-7600. Website: www.maps-inc.org
· Healing Abuse Working for Change (HAWC): Offices in Salem, Gloucester, Lynn, North Shore Medical Center. Telephone: 978-744-8552. Website: www.hawcdv.org
· Jane Doe Inc: Telephone: 617-248-0922. Website: www.janedoe.org