More than two dozen women, each holding a single rose, stood on the steps of San Francisco City Hall this afternoon to raise awareness about life-saving services for victims of domestic violence.
Several agencies that provide such services–including WOMAN, Inc., and Donaldina Cameron House–participated in a news conference urging Mayor Ed Lee to sustain the city’s financial commitment in protecting domestic violence services.
Supervisor John Avalos, who first organized the annual conference with the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium four years ago, said these are vital services.
“Our system of services for victims of domestic violence is literally saving lives,” Avalos said.
Over the last decade, domestic violence homicides have dropped by 80 percent, according to Avalos.
“Ten years ago, we saw an average of 10 to 12 women domestic violence homicide victims a year. Last year, we were down to one … but even one life is too many,” Avalos said.
Although it will be a few weeks before the mayor releases his budget and the numbers are finalized, Avalos said there is a potential for loss of funding for the agencies.
Even if the services are spared cuts this year, Avalos said a long-term commitment to protecting these services is necessary.
“We know there’s more we need to do,” he said.
Emberly Cross, an attorney with the Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic in San Francisco, said cuts to services “could damage safety nets” and endanger vulnerable populations.
Jill Zawisza, of WOMAN, Inc., said that their city-funded crisis line fielded more than 20,000 calls last year and provided peer counseling and safety planning.
Several other supervisors spoke at the event, including Scott Wiener, Christina Olague, Mark Farrell, Jane Kim, Malia Cohen and Board President David Chiu.
Farrell emphasized that the services have an impact greater than the immediate assistance they provide to victims.
“Domestic violence affects every one of us,” he said. “And it’s all of our responsibilities to fight against it.”
Children who grow up in violent homes are more likely to grow up and inflict violence on others, and violence in the home is an indicator of violence on the streets, Kim said.
“Many of these things we try to combat much too late,” she said.