Monday, April 16, 2012

National Child Abuse Prevention Month | Every Child Counts

Child abuse has many forms. It can be a physical attack, child neglect, or emotional or sexual abuse, and it often leaves lifelong scars. April has been designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) seeks to raise the awareness of this horrific crime and its outcomes.

Government statistics are based on cases that are reported to social service agencies, investigated by Child Protective Service workers, where there was evidence to determine that a legal definition of “abuse” or “neglect” was met. In short, official government statistics are only “the tip of the iceberg.”

According to experts, most abused and neglected children never come to the attention of governmental authorities, which is particularly true for neglected and sexually abused children, who may not exhibit physical signs of harm. In the case of sexual abuse, secrecy and intense feelings of shame may prevent children, and adults who may be aware of the abuse, from seeking help.

Sadly, most children who are sexually abused are abused by a family member or close friend, and "stranger danger" is quite rare. In fact, the perpetrator is more likely to be someone in the child’s everyday life.

All types of child abuse and neglect can leave lasting scars. Some of these scars may be physical, but emotional scarring can also have long lasting effects; damaging a child’s sense of self-worth, the ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at school and at work. Child abuse can happen in all neighborhoods and in all families; it crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines.

Child abuse victims many times suffer from a lack of trust and relationship difficulties; core feelings of being “worthless” or “damaged.” Sexual abuse survivors, internalizing the feeling of stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often struggle socially and have trouble regulating their emotions.

This is where CalVCP comes in. CalVCP is committed to helping these young victims get the counseling and other services they need to help them recover. We are committed to helping all victims of child abuse regain their voice and take control of their futures. While we can’t give back the innocence that so many have lost, we can help them to heal and be a voice to stop child abuse from happening in the future.

Anna M. Caballero serves Governor Jerry Brown as a cabinet member and as Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency. She is responsible for the oversight of departments charged with civil rights enforcement, consumer protection, and licensure for 2.4 million working professionals. She has served in state and local government as Mayor of Salinas, as a city council member for fifteen years, and in the California State Assembly for four years. Prior to her election to the Assembly, Caballero established Partners for Peace, a nonprofit organization dedicated to youth violence prevention in Salinas.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Domestic Violence | A Community Issue

For most of American history, domestic violence has been thought of as a private family issue; however with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice report that one in four women will fall victim to domestic violence in their lifetime, it is clear that we as a society have to do more to stomp out this abhorrent practice. Although women are more commonly victimized by domestic violence crimes, men account for 15 percent of intimate partner violence. This widespread abuse is no longer a private problem as it has become a social issue affecting the well-being and healthy development of too many families and communities. Our efforts to prevent this abuse have benefited many families; however, more can be done.

State agencies and domestic violence advocates have done an impressive job in getting the public involved in building safer communities by fighting back against domestic violence. The work to educate the public on domestic violence and prevention techniques has set many families on the right path. Still, new domestic violence stories continue to appear daily in the media.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, on average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. Studies also show that the costs of domestic violence in our country for medical and health care have exceeded $5.8 billion per year.

While many still view domestic violence as a psychological and private family issue, it is imperative to understand its societal affects. The damage of domestic violence has been shown to perpetuate the poverty and psychological challenges that face many American families. This creates a negative environment in which to raise our children.

Many factors lead to domestic violence; however, a larger social effort is vital to move toward freedom from this abuse. There is so much more we can do stop the prevalence of this offence. There is power in numbers: more of us should get involved to encourage victims and their children overcome domestic violence and other forms of abuse by empowering them to govern their own lives. From spreading awareness to sharing countering techniques and suggesting methods to voting for new legislation, our combined efforts will change the course of this domestic violence.

After serving four years in the California State Assembly, Leland Yee was elected to the State Senate in November 2006. In 2010, Senator Yee was re-elected. Representing District 8, which includes San Francisco and San Mateo County, Yee is the first Chinese American ever elected to the California State Senate.

During his tenure in the Legislature, Senator Yee has fought for children, mental health services, working families, seniors, education, open government, consumer protection, civil rights, and the environment. He has consistently voted against budget cuts to education, social services, and health care.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It’s Time to Talk about It | Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Every April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) sheds light on a solemn problem that affects people of every age and background. According to a national study, one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused before their 17th birthday. The U.S. Department of Justice reports nearly one assault every two and a half minutes in the United States.

The 2012 Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)
campaign centers on promoting healthy sexuality to
prevent sexual violence.
Sexual assault takes many forms and includes attacks such as rape or attempted rape, and any unwanted sexual contact or threats. Grievously, the majority of assailants are either an intimate partner, family member, acquaintance or friend of the victim, not a stranger.

The effects of sexual violence are devastating and can lead to a lifetime of complex health, mental health and behavioral struggles. Studies show that sexual assault victims may experience physical effects such as pain, injuries, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Emotional and psychological effects may include denial, anger, depression, numbness, nightmares, loss of self-esteem, shame, substance abuse and psychological disorders. Physiological effects may include hyper vigilance, insomnia, panic attacks, eating disorders, self-mutilation, and sexual dysfunction or hyper arousal.

The California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) helps thousands of victims every year address the physical, emotional and psychological effects related to sexual assault. Last fiscal year alone, CalVCP processed over 4,000 sexual assault claims and provided over $4 million in assistance to sexually violated victims. The Program provided sexual assault victims with crime-related financial assistance for hospital and ambulance expenses, relocation expenses, medical testing and treatment, x-ray exams, mental health counseling and dental treatment.

Join CalVCP, along with other victim advocates and agencies, in spreading awareness about sexual assault. Many counties throughout the state are hosting SAAM events; check out CALCASA’s SAAM events calendar frequently for updates. While nothing can erase a tragic experience, we can each do our part to stand with victims, raise awareness and share prevention strategies. As the National campaign suggests, it’s time to talk about it. Let us commit to educating our communities on how to prevent sexual violence.

If you or someone you know is in danger, please call 9-1-1 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233), or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). View this directory of Crisis Centers in CA to obtain information on a center near you.

Portrait of Julie Nauman
Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB), appointed in 2008. VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reaching Every Victim

CalVCP's banner commemorates
Crime Victims' Rights Month in
Tending to the needs of victims of crime has always been a priority for the State of California. In fact, it was California that passed the first victim compensation program back in 1965. It was California that implemented the most stringent victims’ rights laws in 2008 and it is California that continues to raise the bar on victim’s needs as we call for more accountability of criminal offenders to pay their restitution and provide more rights for victims of sexual assault, human trafficking and domestic violence.

It is because of this strong commitment to victim services that we expand on the National observance of Crime Victims' Rights Week to make the entire month of April devoted to the needs of victims of crime and declare April to be California Crime Victims' Rights Month.

Each year, nearly 164,000 violent crimes occur in our state. The good news is crime has seen a decrease over the past decade, however, these violent acts continue to mount and with it, victims and survivors continue to need our help. Last year, the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) received over 65,000 applications for services and was able to provide more than $98 million in services to victims. But there is so much more we can do for them.

During California Crime Victims' Rights Month, we are dedicated to creating more awareness of the senseless acts that occur in our Golden State and educating victims and survivors of crime to the resources available to them through state and local programs as well as through victim advocacy groups and non-profit assistance organizations. We are also committed to working with lawmakers to make the necessary changes to better protect residents and visitors by prevent criminal activity in the first place.

California Crime Victims' Rights Month is about honoring victims and respecting their rights. This month is about protecting victims from enduring any more than they already have and it is about empowering every victim. The California Victim Compensation Program is proud to be part of California Victims' Rights Month and to be a partner in protecting victims’ rights.

Portrait of Julie Nauman
Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB), appointed in 2008. VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.