Friday, October 30, 2015

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

The question we ask ourselves during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and throughout the year, is how do we, as a community, turn awareness into action? How do we spark a change across the state?

“Silence Hides Violence: Be a Voice” was the California Victim Compensation Program’s (CalVCP) theme and call to action during DVAM as we step up to make a change and encourage others to do the same.

Domestic violence affects 12 million people every year in the U.S. including men, women, and children. It has many faces as it knows no gender, race or ethnicity. It is no secret that domestic violence occurs; however, it is a silent problem. We must be a voice for domestic violence survivors.

This October, CalVCP partnered with domestic violence organizations to provide trauma-informed workshops for our employees, with presentations from the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), the LGBT Center, and WEAVE. This training helped our staff better understand the needs of domestic violence survivors — both immediately following the crime and on their road to recovery, including the different dynamics the LGBT community faces. We also participated in, and provided, CalVCP outreach at events, joined our partners in a month-long social media campaign, and invited NO MORE and CPEDV to write guest blogs pertaining to domestic violence.

With the signing of AB 1140 earlier this month, the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board continues to lead the nation in victim services, implementing a wide range of benefit changes that will help victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes. In addition, the Board endorsed changes to victim benefits this month by increasing relocation and funeral benefits, among others, and adding coverage for child care and transportation to crime-related appointments — necessities for domestic violence survivors.

CPEDV’s campaign, “Turning the Golden State Purple” is a great example of how changes can be made across the state — working together in the community as advocates and service providers, making the leap from awareness to action. Turning Domestic Violence Awareness Month into Domestic Violence Action Month, as our partners at WEAVE call it, is a daunting task and a large undertaking for one organization or one governmental agency. Through our 50 years, we have realized the importance of collaboration with our partners, while learning from each other and improving how we serve victims.

As Jessica Merrill wrote in her guest blog from CPEDV, we in the victim service profession need to “create a culture” where survivors of domestic violence are “supported, believed and protected.” She added that we need to listen to and understand how these groups are marginalized, and how this further inhibits them in their efforts to recover and re-claim their lives.

With DVAM coming to a close, let us commit ourselves and our organizations to this call for action. Working together, we can break the silence that hides the violence. Together, we can better provide the help and the services that our domestic violence survivors need.

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.