By District Attorney Summer Stephan
It shouldn’t hurt to go home, but the grim reality is that home is not a safe place for many. Every year there about 17,000 domestic violence incidents reported to police across San Diego County. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month, we are spreading the message far and wide that if you are in an abusive relationship, there is help. Remember domestic violence refers to violence/harm committed by an intimate partner which often means, a boyfriend or husband, although anyone of any gender can be a victim of domestic violence.
On average 13 people are killed per year by an intimate partner. Last year, the figure was 10, but it’s still 10 too many. In San Diego County, we are fighting every day to save lives from the destructive cycles of domestic violence. We do this through education and awareness, victim services, law enforcement response and prosecution.
A point of pride in this area is One Safe Place: The North County Family Justice Center, which provides free support services under one roof to anyone who has experienced child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, hate crime, elder abuse, human trafficking, violent loss, family violence, or other abuse or victimization. Since opening over a year ago, we have served more than 3,200 people and have helped nearly 100 victims with tools to prevent them from being tracked electronically by an abuser. You can learn more about the fabulous facility at OneSafePlaceNorth.org. There is also a similar resource in central San Diego that you can find at www.sandiego.gov/yoursafeplace.
If you’re beginning to feel as if your partner is becoming abusive, look for behaviors such as:
• Telling you that you can never do anything right
• Showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away
• Isolating or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members
• Embarrassing or shaming you with put-downs
• Controlling every penny spent in the household
• Taking your money or refusing to give you money for expenses
• Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
• Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
• Preventing you from making your own decisions
• Telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away your children
• Preventing you from working or attending school
• Destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets
• Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons
• Pressuring you to do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
• Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol
• Physically hitting, pushing or assaulting you
• And most alarming is anything that resembles strangulation by placing their hands around your throat
My office has a Family Protection Division dedicated to prosecuting family violence cases from intimate partner homicide to child abuse and elder abuse. Prosecutors and investigators in this unit work closely with countywide law enforcement and community groups to stop the violence, to make victims safer, and to hold abusers accountable.
Remember, domestic violence tears families apart and is the single greatest cause of injury to women in the United States. If you or someone you know is being abused by a current or former partner, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) for confidential support and assistance planning for safety. More information and resources can be found on the DA’s website at SanDiegoDA.com.
As your District Attorney, I’m committed to increasing communication and accessibility between the DA’s Office and the public in order to keep you safe. I hope these consumer and public safety tips have been helpful.