A problem so common is being left in the dark.
Laura’s House in Lake Forest. (Loren Chavez/Lariat)
Domestic violence remains a prolific problem both nationally and locally which is why October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Numbers continue to grow annually but there are those willing to take the time and energy to stop this growth.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Nearly 1 in 5 adult women and about 1 in 7 adult men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.”
For all that are affected by this ongoing dilemma, there are resources and organizations designed to provide help. Laura’s House, an organization founded in South Orange County to care for those affected by this issue, provides various avenues of support to their clients and community.
As included on their website, “Over the past 24 years, Laura’s House has provided shelter and supportive services to more than 5,000 abused women, men and children, and counseling, life skills education and legal advocacy to over 55,000 persons.”
On the Laura’s House website, there are links to their services such as their 24/7 hotline, emergency shelter, legal services, prevention, and outreach programs and volunteer opportunities.
While anyone can apply to volunteer at their resale stores in Lake Forest and San Juan Capistrano, they also offer advocate training hosted at Saddleback College. Their website elaborates that “After completing 40 hours of training, graduates shall receive a Certificate of Completion that will enable them to pursue volunteer and employment opportunities working directly with survivors of domestic violence in the state of California.”
When asking Prevention Education Specialist Yanira Mendez about the training, she explained that she hopes people will gain “Understanding really the dynamics of intimate partner violence. Understanding how many layers there are to it.”
“Educating myself and realizing how much of an issue this was pushed me into continuing it,” Medez said, “I remember there was one personal motivator for me was when someone said ‘maybe you’ll just get used to it,’ and I never want to get used to hearing about violence.”
“We have to put a focus on people that are causing the actual harm and understanding how we can create change thereby including them in the solution,” she said regarding the changes she’d like to see.
The statistics demonstrate how victims of domestic violence are not exclusively female. Men and LGBTQ+ victims are also prevalent throughout the number of those affected; at the 40-hour training, out of 84 people, 83 were women and 1 identified as nonbinary, furthering Mendez’s idea that those more likely to offend should be more active in trying to stop and prevent this issue.
Madeline Conray, a sociology major at Saddleback, attended the training as recommended by one of her professors.
“I told someone that I don’t mind how this is how I spend my Friday and Saturday, I feel like I’m learning something that is actually going to benefit me,” Conray said.
The motivations of the trainees varied from person to person. Some were survivors of DV, some were aspiring therapists, and others were hoping to volunteer for Laura’s House.
“It’s kind of a two-parter, I’m a sexual assault survivor and because of that I knew I wanted to do something that helped other victims and survivors,” Conray said. “Because of that I decided I wanted to be a sociology major and so I joined to get my hours and because it will apply to my career.”
DV has had stigmas, stereotypes, and silence applied to it for years. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, those tied to the problem, whether through organizations or experience, are stepping up to educate others about the dangers, frequency, and resources related to this issue.