Domestic Violence Awareness Month is officially under way in South Lake Tahoe. On Oct. 1, Live Violence Free, formerly South Lake Tahoe Women's Center, launched the awareness month with a candlelight vigil. In order to honor the many victims of domestic violence from our area and beyond, including a woman who was murdered in South Lake just a few months ago, Live Violence Free staff and a group of committed community members walked with lit candles from 2941 Lake Tahoe Blvd. up the highway to the Lakeview Commons/El Dorado beach area. There the group assembled and spoke to the tragedy of domestic violence, a disturbing and often violent crime committed between intimate partners.
The vigil took place near an awareness display made by Live Violence Free called the Silent Witnesses. The Silent Witnesses are life-size silhouette cut-outs of people who have lost their lives to domestic violence. Individuals from South Lake Tahoe as well as Carson City, Reno, Placerville and the Central Valley area are represented and each Silent Witness wore a shield which described where they were from and how they were killed. The display is a powerful reminder that domestic violence is a very real issue that affects many people, regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender or age.
On Sept. 15, 2011, the National Census of Domestic Violence Services measured the amount of services provided by domestic violence programs in California on one day. On just that single day, 5,363 victims sought help, 2,822 of whom were seeking emergency shelter and 2,541 adults and children who were seeking services such as counseling, legal advocacy, and support groups. Throughout California in 2011, programs provided 562,612 bednights for victims and their children, answered 117,129 crisis hotline calls, and gave 20,320 victims emergency food and clothing. However, in addition to the services that were provided, on the day of the Census 924 victim's requests were left unmet due to shortage of funds and not enough staff available to assist victims.
The goal of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is to bring attention to the seriousness of the issue and help people realize how many are affected by violence in the home every day. Not only are individual lives damaged and sometimes lost, family members, children and loved ones are often left behind, making domestic violence a crime which affects not only individuals, but families and entire communities. Live Violence Free not only provides intervention and emergency services, but works to educate South Lake Tahoe both in the schools and on the community level, with the hope that increased awareness will result in fewer cases of violence.
By participating in Domestic Violence Awareness Month, you can be a part of the mission for a violence free community in Lake Tahoe. For more information on Live Violence Free services or Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities, contact me at 544-2118, ext. 7628, or visit liveviolencefree.org.
- Scarlet Caldwell is an outreach coordinator at Live Violence Free.