Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Has Ended, but the Problem Has Not

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

It has been a few weeks now since we closed out our Domestic Violence Awareness Month efforts throughout the state. Here in Sacramento, CalVCP wrapped up its “Suited for Successful Families” campaign with a formal handover of over 7,300 clothing donations to five of our local partners that serve victims of domestic violence. I am tremendously proud of all the California businesses, agencies, communities and citizens who came together this Domestic Violence Awareness Month to call attention to the need to stamp out this despicable crime.

Because of these efforts and similar ones around the nation, annual occurrences of domestic violence continue to decline. According to a study by the US Department of Justice, the rate of intimate partner violence against women fell 53 percent between 1993 and 2007. Increased community involvement and prevention education have yielded reduced rates of victimization, as have recent legislative efforts like President Obama’s reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which expands protections for domestic violence victims.

Despite this progress, domestic violence remains a pervasive problem that afflicts one in four women and one in seven men. In fact, nearly one-third of the 53,000 applications CalVCP receives annually are a result of domestic violence. Thus, while Domestic Violence Awareness Month has ended, I want to remind Californians to look beyond October and recognize awareness and prevention as a long term effort.

At CalVCP, we continue to work to honor victims and support survivors, educate communities, spark dialogue, and most importantly, ignite community action. Remember that if you witness violence and turn a blind eye because “it only happened once” or “it’s none of my business,” you are subconsciously facilitating the spread of domestic violence. Every one of us has the ability to help prevent and stop DV by reporting violence when we witness it or are made aware of it. No, we may not be able to eradicate the problem of domestic violence individually, but together, we can take a united stand and tell perpetrators that we will not tolerate it any longer. As we move forward, it is imperative that we break the collective silence that sustains this kind of violence in our communities.

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