October is National Domestic Awareness month. In order to raise awareness and help those in need, it is critical that we all have conversations about this important issue throughout this month and beyond.
For most of us, home is often a safe place filled with love, warmth, and comfort. For too many, however, that is not the case. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men are victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, domestic violence cases have increased due to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic this year. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported that they experienced a 9% increase in contact volume (i.e. calls, chats, and texts) from March 16 to May 16 compared to the same period in 2019. However, with most people staying at home more, it still can be difficult for domestic violence victims to safely get the help and resources that they need.
There are ongoing efforts in California to address domestic violence by improving the reporting and trial processes, providing more funding for support programs, increasing awareness campaigns, and focusing on prevention programs. These changes in law, increased funding, and expanded initiatives have resulted in more than 30 percent less in domestic violence related calls to law enforcement in the last decade. However, more needs to be done because even one person victimized is one too many.
In 2019, I passed Assembly Bill 800, which allows survivors to have any identifying information redacted in court documents, including names, phone numbers, online usernames, and more. With this additional protection, domestic violence survivors can safely and confidentially access the court system without fear. AB 800 specifically builds upon the Safe at Home Program, which is a state-run program that survivors can enroll in to use an alternate address in public documents submitted to state, county, and city government agencies. This program is very critical as it allows survivors to keep their home addresses private and unknown to their abusers or potential abusers. More information on the Safe at Home program can be found at https://www.sos.ca.gov/registries/safe-home.
While we have made progress, there is definitely more that needs to be done. It is not enough to pass laws at the state level. These crimes typically occur silently behind closed doors and to those least expected. Therefore, it is critical that we all listen, be aware, and learn to recognize the signs of domestic violence and report to the proper authorities. If you know someone who may be experiencing abuse or who is very isolated, please check in with them. If it is an emergency, call 911. There is also a great list of resources by the Santa Clara County at https://www.sccgov.org/sites/dcss/Documents/Com-Resrcs-for-Dom-Violence.pdf.
It is important that victims and survivors know that they are not alone and that there is assistance for them. Remember, one single call can save a life.
Assemblymember Kansen Chu
This is a sponsored post.