WATSONVILLE—Every year during the month of October, the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office sends daily statistics to local media, counting the domestic violence calls to which county law enforcement officials respond.
It is a grim tally and a reminder during Domestic Violence Awareness Month that the issue should never be kept in the dark.
According to D.A. Inspector Kara Taylor, there were 418 calls from Oct. 1-30.
Too often, violence becomes “normalized” to the point where many victims do not realize they are being abused, said Laura Segura, CEO of Monarch Services.
Many people are still unaware of certain types of abuse, Segura added.
Teen dating violence is on the rise, for example.
“It’s important for the community to stay aware of the issue,” she said. “Even one instance it still too many.”
Monarch Services Communications Manager Delphine Burns said that, when people are informed about the issue, they are better equipped to recognize and help stop it.
One of four women will experience domestic violence in their lives, she said.
“If we can have as many people as possible in the community be aware of this, and how to be a support system for people who have experienced violence, that’s wonderful,” she said.
If someone discloses they are being abused, Burns said, the most important thing to do is listen.
“Violence takes away agency and choice from the victim,” she said. “Listening helps them get it back.”
Advocates should also remind the victims that the abuse is not their fault, that they are not alone and that they are believed, she said.
Perhaps most importantly, victims should know that help is available, Burns said. Locally, that can be found by calling the bilingual Monarch 24-hour crisis line at 888-900-4232.