Statistics are not just numbers, they are made by the lives of real people. Like many of my friends, I’m included in the statistics of domestic violence and abuse. There can be a legacy of pain that follows after you your entire life.
The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month across the nation. The purple ribbon is the symbol. You may notice them on light posts around town. There are instances of domestic abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking across society. While men can be victims of domestic abuse, 80 percent are women. Many more victims do not report these acts of abuse out of fear. Many women and children in California each day seek services due to domestic violence. Many are offered stay in emergency or transitional housing.
Even if you are fortunate enough to never have you or your family touched personally, we are all affected. Children from domestic violence homes may have additional absences from school, victims of abuse may be absent from work. Loss of education and work productivity can be just part of the costs. The added strain on our police and criminal justice system costs us too. Emergency rooms are often impacted. As we look closer at the problems we discover that there is a domino effect. And the greatest cost may be the suffering, fear, and even at times death, from this type of violent and uncontrolled behavior.
Behavior is too often taught by example.
Merced County has a high rate of domestic abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking. Fortunately we have Valley Crisis Centers both in Merced and in Los Banos. Valley Crisis Center was created to seek to prevent problems by advocating for positive changes. They also help victims and their children find a safe place to stay. They can help those in fear to develop a safety plan and discuss their options. Valley Crisis provides support, information and group and individual counseling. They can also provide legal services by assisting with restraining orders.With education and awareness that we can bring problems into the light.
Los Banos is very fortunate to have our own office of Valley Crisis Center, located at 545 J St..They will be holding their Annual Peace for Families March at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26 Pacheco Park. The march is open to anyone. I hope you will come out as we join together to stop the violence.
Diana Ingram Thurston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.