Richmond’s politicians, police leadership and community support groups joined together at the Richmond City Council meeting on Tuesday to declare their support for victims of domestic violence.
“It is important for potential victims of domestic violence to know that there are a lot of people in Richmond who want to help them, and that they are not alone,” said Northern District Richmond Police Captain Albert Walle.
Walle was in attendance as the five-member council joined a nationwide effort to declare the month of October to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was clear to him and other city leaders that domestic violence remains a devastating problem in the city, as it does across the country and the world.
“I urge all Richmond citizens to actively participate in efforts to end violence in our schools, homes, places of work and communities. And encourage anyone suffering from domestic violence to seek assistance,” Mayor Tom Butt said.
Victims seeking help can find it difficult to get aid right away. Domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 calls a day nationwide, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in the United States. But an attempt by Richmond Confidential to call a national hotline suggests that it may not be so easy to seek assistance. When contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, I made two phone calls. The first time I was on hold for 31 mins and the second time for 10 mins.
Richmond Confidential also called the 24-hour toll free crisis hotline of STAND!, a local organization working to help solve domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse, and the call was answered right away.
Asked why it took 31 minutes to pick up, a spokeswoman for the national hotline said, “I cannot give you that information.”
An average of 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner every minute, the national domestic violence coalition says.
United States government data confirms domestic violence remains pervasive. More than 12 million men and women in the United States will experience physical violence each year by a current or former partner before the age of 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in four women and one in seven men reported having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Several Richmond organizations are participating in the month-long awareness campaign, including the Family Justice Center. It is a one-stop center for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse and human trafficking.
According to the center, it saw a 300 percent increase in the number of people it served between 2014 and 2017. Last year, the center served 1,043 families, of which 814 families, or 78 percent, were victims of domestic violence in Richmond.
“Part of the reason for this increase is community awareness and increased resources at the center,” said Susun Kim, executive director of the Justice Center.
The center not only tries to help victims find a safe place, but also offers a leadership program to help survivors become community leaders. There are no fees for any services provided at the center.
Anyone concerned about domestic violence can make a complaint by calling the Family Justice Center at 510-974-7200, STAND! at 1-800-215-5555, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, which offers a Spanish language option.