SAVE (Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments) is a community-based nonprofit agency that has provided services to domestic violence survivors to the Tri-Cities, the Bay Area, and beyond for over 36 years. Rodney Clark, SAVE’s Executive Director, shares insight into intimate partner violence and its effects on individuals, families and entire communities, and why we need to take action to prevent it and help those in need:
When the average person thinks about domestic violence, high profile incidents involving celebrities such as Rihanna and Chris Brown typically comes to mind. Local high profile cases that involve fatalities also receive intense media coverage, such as the murder of Myrna Umanzor, a San Leandro teen mother who was stabbed to death by her estranged boyfriend, Pam Conover, the Petaluma school teacher and mother of four who was shot to death by her husband or Evangeline Contillo of Newark, who was murdered by her partner and father of her two children. These incidents shocked friends, families and communities because of their extreme level of violence.
Yet SAVE advocates know there are many more incidents of intimate partner abuse that go unreported and/or involve acts of abuse that are hidden or subtle and therefore more difficult to detect or identify. Abusers use many forms of violence to exert power and control over a partner, including emotional, verbal, financial, sexual, psychological and spiritual abuse, threats of violence, destructive acts such as damaging a partner’s belongings, stalking, and threats to reveal a partner’s sexual orientation or immigration status.
While domestic violence is primarily a crime against women, men may also be victims, although they are far less likely to report abuse. Domestic violence knows no boundaries and can affect anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age, level of education or sexual orientation. Domestic violence also has a ripple effect; children who grow up witnessing domestic violence are at far greater risk of becoming either abusers or victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence also has an economic impact due to violence-related productivity loss or absences. Neighborhoods and entire communities are affected emotionally when violence erupts and emergency personnel (police, paramedics and fire department staff) are particularly at risk when responding to domestic violence-related calls due to the volatile nature of these incidents.
What can we do as individuals and communities to help domestic violence survivors? Individuals experiencing abuse need nonjudgmental support and may also require immediate assistance or referrals for help on a moment’s notice. This is where SAVE steps in. SAVE offers prevention, intervention and support services to all who seek it –- at no cost. SAVE serves all who seek help, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, language spoken, or geographic location. SAVE’s focus is to provide immediate assistance to those experiencing domestic violence through programs such as our emergency shelter and 24-hour hotline. SAVE’s efforts also include community education and outreach programs to teach others how to recognize domestic violence and provide assistance. SAVE support programs include individual and group counseling, resource referrals and more.
SAVE’s ability to provide these critically-needed services depends on the support we receive from donors. If you are interested in joining SAVE in our efforts to raise awareness about and prevent abuse, and support individuals and families impacted by violence, there are many ways you can help. Visit our website to learn about volunteer opportunities or to make a donation. Better yet, join us on Friday, September 28, 2012, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., at the Hilton Newark/Fremont for SAVE’s 10th Annual Breakfast Eye Opener. Our presentation this year will include a former SAVE client’s inspiring presentation and engaging, interactive elements. Proceeds from this important community education and fundraising event will benefit SAVE’s many free services. For more information, please visit http://www.save-dv.org/events_breakfast.html or call our Community Office at (510) 574-2250. Tickets are $75 per person. We look forward to seeing you there – this is one Breakfast you don’t want to skip!