A Central Coast attorney’s killing helps shine a light on the hidden tragedy of domestic violence.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
What is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States? If you guessed car accidents, you would be wrong. In fact, more women are hurt by their partners than by any other kind of accident. Forty-two percent of murdered women are killed by their intimate partner.
Every year, more than six million women are abused by their romantic partners. And women are not the only ones affected – children and even men can be the victims of domestic violence. Local law enforcement and women’s shelters have seen a recent increase in cases of domestic violence and note an alarming increase in the severity of the crimes. They point to the bad economy placing more stress on relationships of all kinds.
Recently, Celestial Cassman, Deputy City Attorney for Capitola, Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, was murdered while on vacation in Maui. A woman bystander tried to save Cassman. Though she did not succeed, her bravery showed that domestic violence is not a private matter. Cassman’s boyfriend has been charged in connection with the killing; the case serves as a tragic reminder that domestic violence happens to people of any class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, marital status and age.
Each October, since 1987, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has joined with law enforcement and health organizations throughout California to sponsor National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with activities to increase public understanding of this terrible crime. It is through public education we can empower victims and end the ongoing cycle of violence.
There are many events occurring in our region that will shine a spotlight on this issue. In downtown Santa Cruz there will be a unity event on Pacific Avenue from 11am-1pm on October 3, organized by Women’s Crisis Support and local law enforcement. On October 17 at 6pm at the Watsonville Plaza located at 308 Main Street there will be a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of domestic violence and support shelter services in Santa Cruz County.
The YWCA of Monterey County will have students create and sign pledges against violence to be displayed at participating schools. YWCA is also partnering with local restaurants, which will donate a percentage of checks accompanied with a YWCA coupon to YWCA programs. For more information or to get involved, please contact the YWCA at 422-8602 or visit www.ywca.org/montereycounty.
In South Santa Clara County, Community Solutions is commemorating its 30th Anniversary of providing services to sexual assault survivors by holding a celebration on October 27 from 5:30-7:30pm at the Morgan Hill Community & Cultural Center. For more information, please visit www.communitysolutions.org.
Funding for domestic violence programs has come under fire and I have continued to fight to preserve domestic violence programs in California. Unfortunately, there are fewer dollars allocated, making it more difficult for these programs to do this very important work. With that in mind, it is important to create a zero-tolerance mindset for domestic violence and work to rebuild financial support for these essential services in our communities.
As chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, I work hard to promote the idea of prevention. Domestic violence is preventable, but it takes a village to stop it. Fortunately, there is help available, and victims do not need to suffer in silence. If you or someone you know is being victimized, please call 9-1-1 in an emergency, or 2-1-1 for counseling and shelter services.
I encourage members of our community to attend these events to help send a powerful statement and show support for victims and their families.
California Assemblymember Bill Monning represents the 27th Assembly District.