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Violence in the home has long lasting, far reaching effects Patty Chavez | Sat, Oct 14 2017 12:00 PM

Each year in the United States, more than five million children witness violence in their home — the very place where children should feel safe.

Domestic violence knows no boundaries and happens among all demographics, levels of income and education. From athletes to celebrities to next door neighbors, media stories about domestic violence incidents continue to make headlines.

For a child, experiencing abuse, whether as a direct victim or an observer, has a profound effect on the developing brain of a child.  Self-esteem, the ability to learn, sleep patterns and physical health are all impacted. Without intervention, it begins a chain reaction that can change the course of the rest of a child’s life and can perpetuate the cycle of violence.

It is not uncommon to learn that a perpetrator or an adult victim was once a child victim of domestic violence.

In San Diego’s South County, South Bay Community Services provides domestic violence support services including counseling, support groups, emergency shelter and transitional housing.

Last year, SBCS responded to more than 625 emergency domestic violence calls with law enforcement in San Diego’s South County.  More than 150 children sought shelter with a parent.

In addition, SBCS provides Mi Escuelita Therapeutic Preschool, a program that is also part of the Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood initiative.  Each year, 72 little ones have a safe place to learn and heal at this one of a kind preschool. Law enforcement, Child Welfare Services, shelters and other service agencies refer children to Mi Escuelita. There is often a waiting list.

A five-year longitudinal study from the University of California, San Diego has shown Mi Escuelita graduates are performing as well – and often better – on key indicators of academic success as their peers who did not experience the same types of events. With the help of Chula Vista Elementary School District, Sprouts Chula Vista, Manpower, Eastlake Church, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and many dedicated community partners, SBCS is well on its way to expand services and capacity.

Together, we do change lives.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is the 30-year anniversary since this nationwide observance has brought together organizations and communities to honor survivors of domestic violence, to raise our voices against abuse and to work towards prevention.

SBCS is a partner of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council which brings together a collaboration of professionals from public, private and nonprofit organizations, survivors, and community members to raise awareness, build capacity and work toward collaborative solutions.  While partner associations throughout the region work to provide and sustain shelters and services available, the resources needed to assist families are many and varied.  Through community support, we can bridge the gap and succeed.

Whether it be time, donations, ideas or feedback, we each have an opportunity to play a vital role in the lives of local families in need. Our strength lies in our ability to stand united. Your involvement matters.

Please visit South Bay Community Services website and Facebook page to follow and learn more about regional advocacy events, connect with resources and materials and raise your voice against violence. #DMAVturns30

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