October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Sept. 13 marked the 19th Anniversary of the signing of the Violence Against Women Act. Since 1994, VAWA has made great strides by including providing services for not only women who have been victims of domestic violence, but children and men also. In this year’s reauthorization of the legislation, Native Americans, victims who are undocumented, and the LGBTQ communities have all been added as protected groups under this law. We continue to take steps as a nation and world where VAWA will no longer be needed; but until then we continue to work with our communities and survivors to empower healing, growth, and encourage healthy relationships in their lives.
On Sept. 12, 2012, the National Census of Domestic Violence Services counted the services provided by California domestic violence agencies in a 24-hour period. On just that single day, 5,258 victims sought help and were provided services. Out of the 5,258 requests, 1,170 were turned away due to a shortage of staff and funding available for domestic violence victims. California’s crisis centers provided emergency shelter for 2,975 adults and children, although these victims were provided with a safe place for the night there were still 792 shelter requests unmet. Housing requests made up 68 percent of the total unmet needs in the state of California.
Our agency, along with many others throughout the state and nation, has suffered multiple budget cuts. Due to funding losses, LVF is no longer able to provide survivors with legal representation for needs such as establishing safe custody agreements, protective restraining orders, divorce proceedings, and child support cases. These services are crucial to victims in ensuring safety and facilitation of healing. It is through our outreach and awareness events that we continue to spread the message of the value of a healthy and violence-free life. LVF depends on the community to rally in support of the cause, not only morally but financially, as well. Join us for our candlelight vigil where we will assemble at our office to honor survivors and those who have become victims of domestic violence on Nov. 1st at 6:30 p.m.
The goal of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is to unveil the gravity of the issue and show how many of our neighbors and family members 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 ripples harm through many people. Live Violence Free not only provides intervention and emergency services, but works to educate South Lake Tahoe and Alpine County, both in the schools and in the community, with hopes that increased awareness will result in fewer cases of violence. By participating in DVAM, you too can be a part of the mission of making Lake Tahoe a violence-free community. For more information on Live Violence Free services or DVAM activities, contact me at 544-2118 or visit our website, liveviolencefree.org.
Diana Meza Cabrera is the outreach coordinator for Live Violence Free.