By Natalia Baltazar & Sandra Clark
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) and National Bullying Prevention Month. Empower Yolo already started its 9th Annual Paint Yolo Purple (the color purple representing Domestic Violence Awareness) Month of Action campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence and anti-bullying, and help fund Empower Yolo’s life-saving services for survivors of abuse and their children.
Although progress has been made toward preventing and ending domestic violence and providing support to survivors and their families, important work remains to be done as there were 84 domestic violence-related homicides in California in 2022, of which 63 of the fatalities were female and 21 were male, see “Homicide in California 2022.” California Department of Justice, Division of California Justice Information Services, Bureau of Criminal Information and Analysis, Criminal Justice Statistics Center: 2023 https://data-openjustice.doj.ca.gov/sites/default/files/2023-06/Homicide%20In%20CA%202022f.pdf.
“Ensuring that there are accessible and comprehensive services, including counseling, legal assistance, and safe housing is essential to break the cycle of domestic violence in our community,” says Lynnette Irlmeier, Executive Director, Empower Yolo.
This year’s DVAM efforts focus on identifying signs of domestic violence; how to help a friend/family member experiencing domestic violence; and further broadening awareness in the local business community and throughout Yolo County.
Domestic violence is not always visible. It’s often covert and passive-aggressive. Some lesser-known signs of abuse may include: making victims ask for money, treating them like a servant, the abuser threatening to leave or harm themself or the victim, harming pets and/or property, insults and playing mind games, guilt and shame, minimizing or making light of the victims’s opinions or experience (gaslighting). The victim may feel unsafe expressing anger or hurt, or the victim is hyper-vigilant to not upset their partner because they dread what will come.
Empower Yolo will also be highlighting how to help someone experiencing domestic abuse: listen and acknowledge their feelings; don’t judge them for staying or going; encourage them to spend time with supportive people; help them to develop a safety plan; encourage them to talk to Empower Yolo; know you can’t “rescue” them. For information on how to support a friend or family member experiencing abuse visit empoweryolo.org.
Empower Yolo continues to help survivors of domestic violence and their children. In 2022 Empower Yolo provided safe shelter to 272 survivors of abuse (of which 130 were children) for 17,583 bed nights. In addition to shelter, Empower Yolo also offers many other services to survivors and their children including 24-hour crisis intervention, legal advocacy, confidential counseling for adults and children, support groups, housing services, youth services, financial empowerment services, case management, food, clothing, and so much more.
This year’s Paint Yolo Purple campaign began with the executive board’s outreach event to businesses in Davis, Woodland, Winters, and West Sacramento. Information about Empower Yolo is being shared and businesses are being asked to put up a window cling with a call to action to help us end domestic violence and support survivors. Several businesses in the county support this outreach effort and recognize the need to support domestic violence awareness in our community.
Corner Drug Co. in Woodland is a supportive community partner. Empower Yolo is one of Corner Drug Co.’s nonprofit partners for its 1st Street window project. Empower Yolo’s project will be displayed from October 10 through the end of the year. Supporters can also donate to our “rooms to go” drive and the Corner Drug Co.’s holiday toy drive for Empower Yolo; many items can be purchased and donated at Corner Drug Co. For more information visit cornerdrugco.com. Other businesses in Woodland that supported the outreach event are Vanessa Silva Hair Studio, Main Street Antiques Too, Famous Footwear, and Carpet One.
In Davis, M Nails business owner Mai Pham proudly displays the window cling. Pham also participates in Empower Yolo’s Adopt a Family program during the holidays. Prytanean Women’s Honor Society at UC Davis will be distributing window clings to businesses in the first two weeks of October. In Winters window clings have been distributed to all downtown businesses and owners have been very supportive.
“The business community in Yolo County has been very receptive in supporting Empower Yolo’s outreach efforts; it’s been an awesome experience meeting with so many businesses,” says Lynda Jones, Empower Yolo board member, co-secretary. Thank you to all the supportive business owners who have already shown their support for survivors in our community and Empower Yolo. If your business is interested in supporting Empower Yolo during DVAM, contact [email protected].
On Tuesday, October 10 Empower Yolo will be the beneficiary of Mojo’s Celebrity Servers event at Mojo’s Lounge & Bar, 428 1st Street, Woodland from 5-7 p.m. Please join Empower Yolo and our celebrity servers Gena Bravo, President/CEO, of Woodland Memorial Hospital, and Scott Bravo, Fire Captain West Plainfield Fire Department for a fun night benefiting Empower Yolo. Thank you to Mojo’s for their ongoing support.
Other events and activities for DVAM include a “Rooms to Go” drive; donations can be made any time in October at our Woodland or Davis locations during office hours; for a full list of needs visit empoweryolo.org. Wear Purple Day in support of survivors is on Thursday, October 19; take a selfie and tag Empower Yolo on social media to show your support. On Friday, October 27 local law enforcement will participate in the “Battle of Badge” bowling tournament.
Empower Yolo’s ASSETs program (After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens) will also be running a month-long anti-bullying campaign in October. Some of the workshops the preventative education club called Our Strength will focus on are “What is bullying and creating inclusive spaces,” “Cyberbullying and how we can hold ourselves accountable on social media,” and “The bystander effect and how to stand up for others.” ASSETs staff will be hosting these campaigns and will provide resources for students to combat bullying. Their goal is to reach as many students as possible to create a safe environment within Woodland High School to make sure students feel welcomed.
A special thank you to Yolo Federal Credit Union for being Empower Yolo’s advocacy sponsor this year. We appreciate their generosity and support.
For dates and details of activities, a full calendar of events is available at empoweryolo.org. Follow us on Facebook @empoweryolo, Instagram and Twitter @empower_yolo. Help us Paint Yolo Purple in this Month of Action by following us each day in October to learn more about domestic violence, and how you can support survivors of abuse.
The community can help by supporting survivors, raising awareness, participating in DVAM activities, donating to domestic violence programs, and supporting local businesses that support Empower Yolo. Donate online any time this month at empoweryolo.org in honor of or in memory of survivors you know who have been impacted by domestic violence; your support helps our emergency safe house and sustains crucial programs for our clients and the community. Together, we can end domestic violence.