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February 12, 2013 > Letter to the Editor: Ending domestic violence

Letter to the Editor: Ending domestic violence

Submitted By Phoebe Montemayor

Domestic Violence is unfortunately more prevalent in our communities than we would like to think. It can be defined as a pattern of abuse where the perpetrator exerts power and control over their victims, and it comes in various forms: physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, financial, homophobic, immigration and destructive acts. Domestic violence occurs so often that about one fourth of American women report being physically or sexually abused at some point in their lives.

According to the California Department of Justice, Criminal Justice Statistics Center, there were 113 domestic violence fatalities in 2008 in California (the most recent data available). These accounted for 5% of all homicides in the state. Moreover, date rape accounts for almost 70% of sexual assaults reported by adolescent and college age women; 38% of those young women are between 14 and 17 years old. The number of domestic violence issues not reported is unknown, but the staggering 25% of women who already report is disturbingly high and the number of homicides as a result of domestic violence is troubling. On top of that, the number of occurrences among teenagers makes it even that much more disheartening. These statistics mean that it is very possible that someone in your circle of family or friends is or has been a victim of domestic violence, and you may not know.

As a young woman, my initial thoughts were to think of who or what is to blame- media, poverty, genes? However, as a current graduate student trying to complete my Masters in Social Work, I am learning more and more that there is no simple answer or one thing to attribute it to. Our thoughts and actions are a result of numerous factors that yes, may include things such as media, poverty and our genes. But there are many things to consider, such as access to education, jobs, upbringing, neighborhood and the relationship with parents and peers. While there are many who conduct research and studies trying to figure out the root problems of domestic violence abusers and victims, there are organizations and programs in the local community who are here to help those suffering.

Senate bill, S1925: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011, seeks to amend the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) to add or expand definitions of several terms to continue the fight to end this abuse. Some of the improvements include services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and protection for young victims of violence. This bill was first introduced on November 30, 2011 by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It was passed in the Senate on April 26, 2012 and goes to the House next for consideration. If this bill were to pass, it will allow for more funding to organizations that serve domestic violence victims and seek to end this cycle of abuse, organizations like Emergency Shelter Program (ESP) and Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE).

ESP and SAVE are organizations in the community that provide emergency shelters, counseling and therapy, case management services, applying for jobs, government assistance and/or restraining orders, and child services to domestic violence victims. SAVE also has speaking engagements and programs where they educate the community on domestic violence, warning signs, and some prevention tips. Whatever needs their clients have, these organizations try their best to meet them. ESP's head office is located in Hayward, and SAVE's office is located in Fremont.

With the close of the holiday season, each and every one of us should continue the spirit of giving. Get involved by volunteering, donating items, or donating monetarily. Let us end this vicious cycle. Someone in your own family or circle of friends may rely on assistance from this bill through services of organizations like ESP and SAVE. Consider calling your state representatives to encourage passage of S1925, donating your time or financially supporting ESP and SAVE. We can end this abuse.

For more information, contact ESP at (888) 339-7233, www.espca.org or SAVE at (510) 794-6055, www.save-dv.org.

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