Other Voices: Standing together against domestic abuse | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Standing together against domestic abuse

The question that Caroline asked was “Then what?” Caroline had been thinking about leaving her abusive husband for many months. But with three young children and his threat that if she should ever try to leave he would kill her, she knew that her efforts to keep herself and her children safe needed to be well thought out and well planned.

She stated more than once, “If I leave, I leave for good. I get one chance.”

Caroline had been secretly attending a women’s support group, gaining strength, gaining support, preparing herself to flee for safety. Steeling herself for a battle in the courtroom over the kids, knowing getting law enforcement involved would only enrage him, not willing to put friends and family at risk, Caroline knew her biggest hurdle was safe housing.

However, when the time came, she called our agency for shelter only to find out that our shelter had closed. All we could offer her was two or three nights in a motel.

“Then what?” was her response.

When she was ready, the services were not available. Caroline and her children are biding their time enduring the abuse, for her only other option was to be homeless.

Because the California Department of Public Health’s Domestic Violence Shelter grant was cut from the California state budget this summer, the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition lost $207,000 that supported shelter services in Grass Valley. With that loss, services were suspended in August at the 12-bed shelter that provides safety, security and support to victims of domestic violence and their children.

It was a devastating loss to people like Caroline and her children. It has been a difficult two months, as the advocates at DVSAC had to explain to more than 26 women and children that there was not a safe place for them when they made the very difficult decision to escape a violent relationship.

Many chose to stay in abusive relationships, some became homeless, others stayed a few nights in a motel and never re-contacted the agency.

However, as October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, there is no better time to share good news about the fight against domestic violence in our community.

The DVSAC would like to thank the many individuals, churches, and local organizations for the abundant contributions that provided aid during this time.

Donated funds provided motel nights to those in emergency need. These contributions, along with the kindness of the landlord’s generous rent restructuring, enabled the shelter to be prepared to open quickly.

Funds became available through the California Emergency Management Agency in Sacramento and the doors to the shelter have immediately re-opened!

Thank you to everyone who joined in the effort to re-open the shelter doors and work to end domestic violence in this community. Now families like Caroline and her children have a safe place to live as they begin to heal from the effects of domestic violence.

As we stand together against domestic violence, join us Thursday, Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m. for the Take Back the Night Candlelight Vigil. This event is designed to honor those who have lost their lives, those who have survived and those who continue to fight against the social issue of domestic violence.

The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition and Women of Worth are co-sponsoring this event that meets at the corner of S. Auburn St. and Main St. in downtown Grass Valley on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m. Join us as we honor victims, survivors and advocates. We hope to see you there.

When we stand together, when we speak out together, when we work together, we can end domestic violence in our community and around the world. And we are.

If you or someone you know needs help please call our crisis line at 272-3467, visit our Web site at http://www.dvsac.org or come to our business offices at 960 McCourtney Road Suite E in Grass Valley.

We want to help.

Niko D. Johnson is the executive director of DVSAC. She has been advocating for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault since 1993.

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