On Wednesday, Sept. 30, representatives, leaders, and supporters of the Commission for the Prevention of Violence against Women (CPVAW), the Walnut Avenue Women's Center (WAWC), the Women's Crisis Support - Defensa de Mujeres (WCS-DdM), and the County District Attorney's Office gathered in front of the county court house on Water Street to kick-off Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
October has long been an important month for Domestic Violence Awareness, but this year, with Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to cut 100 percent of domestic violence funding (totaling $20.4 million), there was a nearly palpable sense of urgency among those at the conference. Laura Segura, of WCS-DdM, immediately addressed the governor's decision from the podium, saying, "This is really a step backwards for the women's movement and the domestic violence movement... and it's unacceptable." Kristie Clemens, head of WAWC, which has been forced to close on Wednesdays, says that with the current state of the economy they were expecting some budget cuts but were stunned with the decision to cut all funding for domestic violence prevention. "It really hits the most vulnerable population, people who don't have a voice," she says. "It's a tough subject," says Kathy Agnone, head of CPVAW, when asked how something like this could have happened. "Folks don't want to talk about domestic violence, but we have to." According to Clemens, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s decision in no way indicates a drop in domestic violence itself. Nationwide, one in four women will be abused in their lifetime and an average of three women a day are murdered at the hands of their partners. She hopes that the cuts to domestic violence prevention funding will not be misconstrued as signs that the issue has been tackled or is somehow less important now than it once was. The next event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on October 5 at several tabling locations on Pacific Avenue. The CPVAW, WAWC, WCS-DdM, and the DA's office are hoping for a big turnout this year when they need it most. As Clemens says, "It's the responsibility of every citizen to be engaged."
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