Approximately 75 people attended a candlelight vigil Thursday night in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The event, held last night in the Chase Palm Park meeting room, was sponsored by Domestic Violence Solutions. Guest speakers included Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, Rep. Lois Capps and Police Chief Cam Sanchez. A Silent Witness display comprised of statues of local victims murdered as a result of domestic violence were also on display.
“This vigil provides a great opportunity for the community to come together and take a stand against domestic violence,” said Associate Director of Domestic Violence Solutions Elana Walczak.
Domestic Violence Solutions provides services for battered women and their children, including three emergency shelters in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Lompoc, transitional housing through its Second Stage program, 24-hour emergency phone lines, weekly support groups for women and children, and counseling services.
Several campus organizations are also planning activities and events this month to educate students about the problem of domestic violence.
The Rape Prevention Education Program is sponsoring the Clothesline Project, a visual display of shirts with written messages and illustrations that demonstrate the impact of violence against women. The shirts are designed by female survivors of domestic violence as well as members of their families and friends.
“The purpose [of the clothesline] is to educate, to mourn those who have died as a result of this violence, and finally to bear witness to a woman’s courage to survive and heal. Simply viewing the shirts is often enough to encourage a survivor to make a shirt and thereby ‘break the silence’ that has held her prisoner for so long,” said Carol Mosely, coordinator for the Rape Prevention Education Program.
The clothesline was displayed in the Arbor Oct. 10, and will hang there again Monday, Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a workshop for those who would like to make a shirt Oct. 21 from 3:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. in the Women’s Center.
The RPEP also has materials that address dating abuse, including abuse in same-sex relationships, which are available for RAs to post in their halls. Students Stopping Rape will also spend a segment of their training on abusive relationships Oct. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Women’s Center library.
“People do not really want to acknowledge how much assault happens, nor do they seem to care to find out the dynamics of assault,” said Coordinator for Take Back the Night Stephanie Molen. “In a lot of cases the lack of communication between two people is a major problem. For example, the simple question of asking permission before engaging in any physical interaction.”
The Violence Against Women Act’s Civil Remedy, authored by Jackson, was signed by Gov. Gray Davis in September. The legislation states that a person who commits “gender-motivated violence,” including sexual assault or domestic violence, has violated the civil rights of the victim, who is in turn entitled to recover actual damages and attorney fees.
The Domestic Violence Solutions administrative offices can be reached at (805) 963-4458 and their 24-Hour Crisis Line at (805) 964-5245.