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October 29, 2013 > Letter to the Editor: Domestic violence awareness

Letter to the Editor: Domestic violence awareness

At a recent Safe Alternatives to Violent EnvironmentsÕ (SAVE) Breakfast Eye Opener event, I heard the harrowing story of one young motherÕs experience with domestic violence. The abuse she suffered by her partner, then husband and father of her child, was ignored by family. This remarkable woman somehow found the inner strength to remove both her child and herself from this dangerous environment, contacted SAVE and, with legal assistance, left her husband and gained sole custody of her child. This strong woman is now self-empowered, going to school and restoring balance to her life. Stories like this make it clear that more must be done to combat domestic violence and that it is clearly possible to survive and thrive after horrific events and experiences.

It was only 27 years agoÑin October 1987Ñthat our nation observed its first Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Since that time, it has become an annual time of remembrance and action for victims of domestic violence, survivors and advocates across the country.

It is with sadness and a great deal of unending hope that I once again observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I am sad because domestic violence and its toxic effects remain in our local communities. I am hopeful because every year we create more awareness, more desire for and cause for action, more compassion, as well as more services for survivors and victims of this abuse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), upwards of 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been the victims of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by their partner during their lifetime.

However, we must also remember that Òdomestic violenceÓ also covers victims of elder abuse and teen dating violence; incidences of both are on the rise. As domestic abuse is one of the most underreported crimes in America and 33% of female and 4% of male murder victims were killed by their intimate partners, it is clear that we must reflect on these disheartening statistics this month. We must reflect on what more we can do to alleviate the pain and suffering of victims and move our society in a direction where we no longer tolerate domestic violence.

Since I was first elected to the State Legislature in the late 1990Õs, I have worked to expand protections for victims of domestic violence. I have authored legislation to:

* Standardize the definition of Òdating relationshipÓ under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act allowing more victims to be able to obtain restraining orders;
* Authorize victims of domestic violence to be able to receive relocation expenses;
* Extend protections from adverse employment actions to victims of domestic violence;
* Extend state services to male victims of domestic violence;
* Streamlined and clarified the Safe-at-Home program that has helped protect the identities of nearly 6,260 survivors of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault since its inception in 1999.

This year, I authored and Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 107Ñsponsored by the Alameda County District AttorneyÕs office and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA)Ñthat provided for continued funding for the administration of rape kits, funding that I successfully advocated for a couple of years previously. In the months and years ahead, I will certainly continue to work to help provide victims, survivors and advocates with the tools they need to combat domestic violence.

If you are suffering from domestic violence, I encourage you to reach out to one of the many local organizations that help victims and survivors. Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments, located in Fremont, can be reached 24 hours a day at (510) 794-6055; Tri-Valley Haven, located in Livermore, can be contacted on their crisis line at (800) 884-8119; Building Futures with Women and Children, located in San Leandro, can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-866-A-WAY-OUT; the Alameda County Family Justice Center, located in Oakland, can be reached at (510) 267-8800; and the Family Violence Law Center in Oakland can be contacted at (800) 947-8301.

Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-East Bay)

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