One in three women and one in four men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Former President Jimmy Carter described domestic violence as “the most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on earth.” Globally, the estimated annual cost of domestic violence is 8 trillion dollars (8 billion in the U.S. alone) due to lost productivity and medical costs. So far this year in Santa Clara County, 13 deaths have been attributed to domestic violence, almost double the number from 2016. More must be done to eradicate the scourge of domestic violence. There is help and there is a role for every single person to play.

During the month of October, we have seen more members from our community, legislators and advocates taking steps and launching initiatives to bring attention to the issue of domestic violence. We kicked off Domestic Violence Awareness Month by partnering with the City of San Jose to light up City Hall in purple. The color purple for survivors of Domestic Violence, who may be wounded both physically and emotionally, is meant to be a symbol of peace, courage, survival, and dedication to ending violence. The Mayor, Vice Mayor and other San Jose City Council members and the President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors participated in the event and strongly expressed the need to continue to encourage our community to stand up and speak out against domestic violence and support those who are living in violence and abuse. The City of Campbell also lit up their water tower this month to mark domestic violence awareness month.

This year, in response to increasing need for our services, we successfully transitioned our annual Light Up the Night event offsite and saw a 64% increase in sponsorships and support for that event. Most importantly, it was an evening that brought together diverse community members, elected officials, donors, survivors and their families, community partners and others and an opportunity to raise awareness about domestic violence. Attendees visited displays to learn about our various programs from staff about existing resources and services. We firmly believe that community education and awareness raising are important tools to end domestic violence.

Domestic violence comes in many forms, including physical, emotional, psychological, verbal and financial. One of our key initiatives this month was to educate people about financial abuse. Research shows that nearly 8 in 10 Americans (78%) have not heard financial abuse is a type of domestic violence. Financial abuse traps victims in abusive relationships and prevents victims from acquiring, using or maintaining financial resources. Next Door Solutions was selected to participate in the AllState Foundation Purple Purse challenge to raise funds to provide life-changing services for domestic violence survivors, and discuss the characteristics of financial abuse.

Good news was observed at the state level in a major policy victory for survivors and advocates of domestic violence with the passage of AB 557, a bill increasing CalWORKs support for victims fleeing an abusive relationship. This bill provides additional CalWORKs protections for survivors impacted by poverty as a result of domestic violence, and includes immediate temporary housing assistance while a victim’s application is in-process, required good cause waivers for children’s immunization and school attendance, and information about local support services.

As we continue to advance our important work to end domestic violence in the moment and for all time, and raise awareness in our community, we need everyone’s support in promoting healthy, respectful relationships. Whether it’s reaching out and offering support to a person living in an abusive situation, making in-kind contributions from our Wish List or visiting nextdoor.org and making a financial contribution of any size, your help is vitally important and life-saving.

May we all move into the holiday season and recommit ourselves to building a healthy, safe and peaceful community for all!