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Ask the Expert

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Jonathan Kraut: Domestic violence advocates needed

Posted: May 14, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 14, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

My firm was contacted last year to support a domestic case involving a young woman and her year-old baby. She needed help keeping legal custody of her child. The baby’s father, a volunteer counselor with a drug rehab program, had claimed the mother of his child was unfit and a drug user.

This is one of those cases that, while in the process of just supporting a client, opened my eyes wide and since my world view has changed.

It turns out that the baby’s father is a serial abuser who lures drug dependant women, who want to break addiction, with the promise of helping them with recovery.

Once gaining their trust, he asserts his control over them with a supply of drugs, threats, and beatings.

My firm’s role was to locate this guy’s criminal, family, and civil histories, find witnesses and former victims, and if needed to testify as to his chronic abuse of women.

My staff determined that this character has nine criminal cases to include multiple counts of drug, weapon, violence, and other charges that span four counties and twenty years.

In addition, court records report this bully intimidated, kidnapped, drugged, and raped, a number of women, to include my client.

Of course this kind of habitual abuser blames the victims for his outrageous and callous acts. And he claims it is just a coincidence that all his victims were addicts trying "to get clean."

Fortunately the court granted the mother gain full legal custody and placed a permanent injunction against the father having any contact with the mother and her family.

After the ruling is when the judge asked why I was not certified as a "domestic violence advocate."

Despite my many years working these difficult domestic cases, I had never heard the term "domestic violence advocate."

At my first opportunity I contacted the Santa Clarita Valley Domestic Violence Center to see how I might help and possibly get certified.

Linda Davies, the executive director of our local center and I had a mind-blowing chat.

I know that domestic violence affects about one in five adults.

What I did not realize was how many local women ask for support. In the last three months Linda reports that our fair valley has had 625 victims of domestic abuse coming for help.

"This is the center’s 30-year anniversary," Linda said. "Over that period we have served from between 18,000 and 21,000 women. Every month we see 100 more, about three a day, many with children. Our shelter is a place where we offer safety, counseling, and a way for victims and their children to finally escape an unbearable life."

"We also offer outreach to our community- against cyber bullying, date abuse, and child abuse."

Linda continued by explaining that the admin office and outreach programs are largely staffed by volunteers — called "advocates."

The Department of Justice reports that "domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women — more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined" and studies estimate that about 10 million children each year witness some form of domestic abuse. DOJ also reports that 97 percent of couple violence victims are women.

Other studies have shown that up to 75 percent of murdered women were killed by current or former male partners.

Two thirds of these women had been physically abused before being murdered.

The California Department of Justice reports that more than 50 percent of all 911 calls are those asking for help in domestic issues- more than 200,000 calls a year.

Join me in supporting our neighbors and their children in establishing the safe and respectful home they deserve.

The Santa Clarita Valley Domestic Violence Center is recruiting volunteers to help out in any of a thousand ways.

All volunteers must first undergo a criminal background check and attend a two weekend Advocate Course which costs $150.

We need six or more volunteers to sign-up. We hope to have an Advocate class in late June. Become someone who can help offer new hope. Battered women and their innocent children deserve better.

Contact Linda Davies at (661) 259-8175 or ldavies@dvc-scv.org and be an advocate or do whatever you can.

Jonathan Kraut owns a private investigations firm and serves in the Democratic Party of the SCV and on the SCV Interfaith Council. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or other organizations.

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