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New domestic violence program being trialled in California

It is easy to think that whatever happens in a person's own home is his or her own business. While this is true the majority of the time, there are times when help is not only necessary, but is vital. For victims of domestic violence, a new program being tested in one California county may bring new hope.

Police representatives from across the country gathered in the Bay Area recently to learn about the work being piloted by the Contra Costa Alliance to End Abuse. The program receives funding from the federal government, and is also being tested in a number of other major cities in other states. Usually, victims of domestic violence would be given a pamphlet by the police about the help that is available, and encouraged to follow up. This is often ineffective for a number of reasons, not least of all because one may have used the last ounce of courage on that initial contact alone.

Instead, victims will now be asked a series of 11 questions as a part of a lethality assessment program. If too many of these questions are answered with a yes, the victim will be advised that he or she is in serious danger. The police would then be the ones to make the call to the county services in order to get the victim away from the house in the shortest time possible. Victims often fear not being believed, but if the police make the call then the victims feel a measure of reassurance from the validation this gives their situation.

Domestic violence agencies hope that this pilot will lead to a nationwide roll out as soon as possible. For California residents who are currently experiencing abuse, this program may offer hope that has seemed impossible to date. Taking the first step to escape from an abusive spouse requires courage and moral support; however, once it has been made, there are a number of legal options to investigate in order to protect oneself from further harm.

Source: CBS SF Bay Area, "New Program Aims To Stop Domestic Violence Before It's Too Late", Joe Vazquez, June 20, 2017

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