On Oct. 14, a few dozen people gathered at Lake Merritt at 7:30 a.m. to participate in the 5th Annual Walk Against Violence. The walk included music, food, colorful signs, candy and water. Oakland residents, Kaiser Permanente representatives, Mills students and members of Barbara Lee’s office participated in the walk.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and A Safe Place, a Bay Area shelter for battered women and their children, coordinated their 5th annual walk in efforts to bring attention to the issue in the Oakland community. The organization originated in the 1970s in the basement of a church and is now a leading social services agency that offers help for domestic violence victims.
“I think it’s an issue that is often overlooked, and events like these bring awareness,” said freshwoman Chloe Diamond.
While many participants spoke about showing their support when asked about reasons behind their attendance, a few people shared their personal experiences with domestic violence. “I watched my father kill my mother and then he killed himself. That day a part of me died,” read a personal statement painted on a cutout of a girl that was leaning against a table.
Mills women wearing Barbara Lee T-shirts were also there. Team leader Laurel Fedor who is a senior at Mills and Lee’s assistant campaign director said, “This is a family issue. Predominately it happens to women, it targets minorities and people in lower economic situations, but it also affects upper class women. It can happen to anyone.”
Jed Smith, an intern at Barbara Lee’s office, said, “I have witnessed all sorts of domestic violence, not as a victim, but as an advocate. A friend will say ‘I just got into a fight with my girlfriend,’ I say it’s domestic violence. They get surprised, but putting your hands on a woman is domestic violence. Men need to be made aware that touching a woman in anger is violence.”
A big aspect of the event was networking. Organizations and people gathered with the intent to work together to combat the issue. A California victims of crime program was there to talk about the services they provide for women in domestic violecet situations.
They help with medical, mental and health services. Kaiser Permanente is now focusing on training all of their employees in recognizing domestic violence situations in order to provide services for patients that come forward for help. Gamma Phi Delta, a UC Berkeley sorority whose members volunteer at A Safe Place, was there because one of the goals in their group is to help women and underprivileged children.
According to pamphlets that A Safe Place hands out, Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15-44. While men can also be abused, women are more likely to suffer from domestic violence. More than 3 million children witness domestic violence each year, a trauma that can take decades to undo.
For other domestic violence month events and information, visit asafeplacedvs.org.