California budget leaves victims of domestic violence behind

By Karen A. Ferguson

Domestic violence and intimate partner abuse is often insidious, and sometimes the need for help arises suddenly and urgently, catching victims and their loved ones off guard. So, I want to imagine, what if …

What if your adult daughter is in a relationship with a partner who is stalking, threatening and controlling her?

What if your dear friend says his partner is becoming more and more demanding, seems to never be satisfied, is always angry and is no longer the romantic person he was?

What if your neighbor knocks on your door to borrow something, and you see bruises around her upper arm?

And what if this is you? You’re married with children, but always walking on eggshells. Worried every day that he will walk in the door and beat you again — constantly hoping today is not that day.

What if you want to reach out for help, but help is not there?

The truth is that no one considers how vital free domestic violence services are until you need them or walks around thinking about how great it is to have domestic violence services available. This lifeline of services that we think about only when the situation is pressing in on us — this lifeline is in peril.

For San Mateo County, Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse, is the single provider of comprehensive services for domestic violence survivors spanning from 24-hour hotline support and emergency shelter, to legal and mental health services and long-term rental assistance programming. All this is provided free of charge to survivors thanks to federal funding and community support.

Domestic violence services are in jeopardy right now because more than 70% of the funding for local organizations comes from the federal budget revenue stream entitled the Victims of Crime Act. This fund has been diminishing over time and what will amount to cuts in the funding are slated to begin July 2024. All told this will reduce CORA’s capacity to provide life-saving services by up to 45%. This is a devastating loss.

CORA will face the choice between decreasing the number of emergency safe house stays, mental health sessions, legal support, or school and community education programming, as well as reducing the staffing that keeps the organization running effectively. Ultimately, those in need will have less. That means you, your friend and your family members will not have the range of free and confidential support required, if that terrible need arises. In my world, this isn’t OK. Safety nets need to be woven of strong rope.

Help us weather these cuts. This is how you can help:

Call your California Assemblymembers and state senators and urge them to take action to prevent the devastating VOCA cuts. Tell them you support the state budget request letter to fill this gap in funding, needed immediately. Additionally, you can support two bills that would address the sustainability of future support. Assembly Bill 1956, sponsored by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes, D-San Bernardino, would ensure these gaps don’t happen again by requiring state and federal funding stability for survivors of domestic violence. Assembly Bill 2432 by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, D-Encino, will establish a new fund, from crime penalty dollars, that will provide the funds. Reach out to elected officials in California to let them know that free emergency services provided by the only domestic violence agency in your county, CORA, depend on their support. Find your California representatives at https://www.assembly.ca.gov/assemblymembers and https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov.

Karen A. Ferguson, Ph.D, is CEO at CORA, Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse.

This article was originally published in the San Mateo Daily Journal.

New! SPEAK UP About Domestic Violence

In the aftermath of the murder of a young woman in broad daylight outside her home in San Carlos last September, CORA and the City of San Carlos launched SPEAK UP to save lives. The campaign educates community members through outreach to local businesses so that anyone experiencing intimate partner abuse is offered a safe path to seek help.  From nail and beauty salons, to dental offices and fitness gyms, our businesses have contact with community members who may be at risk.  This brief training gives employees in these businesses (large and small) quick tools to spot intimate partner abuse and to offer resources.  San Carlos has supported the development and piloting of SPEAK UP.  Now we want to bring the program to your city.  

If you are a city official and want to learn more, reach out! We’ll share how we would work together to launch SPEAK UP in your city. Citizens who want see more done to stop domestic violence in your community, reach out to your city’s representatives! Tell them why you think it’s critically important that your city addresses domestic violence today and share this webpage with them.

SPEAK UP CAMPAIGN Briefing Sheet

Further questions:

Karen Ferguson, CEO   KarenF@corasupport.org 
Lynn Schutte, Director LynnS@corasupport.org

How Teens can Stay Safe Using Technology 

By: Dale Roberts, Principal at Centarus 

The internet is full of opportunities for people to learn, have fun, and interact with others. Unfortunately, the internet also brings with it new risks, and these risks particularly endanger teenagers. The resources needed for parents and their teenagers to use the Internet safely are provided in the advice that follows. 

Start with the Hardware 

One of your teen’s most vulnerable online activities should be where your child internet protection strategy should begin because it is right in front of you. Nevertheless, if your kid has their own laptop (or frequently borrows yours), it might get them into a lot of trouble. A laptop that may provide unrestricted access to email accounts, personal information, and even crucial passwords and credit card data might disappear in an instant if left unattended in a public setting. Thus, start with safeguarding your teen’s laptop if you want to improve their cybersecurity. 

Malware, Viruses, and Spyware 

The next most important step is make your teenagers aware of what kinds of cyber attacks they could be targeted by. Here are some of the most common attacks: 

Malware 

All malicious software is collectively referred to as malware. 

Virus 

The virus is a sort of malware that can infiltrate a computer’s operating system covertly and control it to take activities that harm the system or impair its functioning. 

Trojan Horse 

Trojan horses are ostensibly innocent programmes or tools that hackers use to infiltrate your operating system with malware. 

Spyware 

Spyware is harmful software that enables a third party to access your computer’s data without your knowledge. 

Social Media: Online & In Public 

Malware and scams aren’t the only internet hazards, as horrible as they are. Teenagers can now live a significantly larger portion of their life online because to social media. Yet while social media enables kids to stay in touch with friends and family even when they are separated by great distances, many of life’s risks have also followed them online. 

Protect Your Mobile Hardware 

When using mobile phones, tablets, and other devices that could store sensitive data of a similar nature or that could be used to access personal information online, many of the same security precautions you take with your laptops should also be taken. Urge your adolescent to secure all of their devices with passwords and turn on the device location feature. 

ID Theft 

So why is it so dangerous for a teen to disclose their location? There is a clear risk involved with disclosing passwords for online merchant accounts or credit card details. But why would an image that shows someone’s address or an address cause issues? 

Sadly, teenagers are just as prone to identity theft as adults are, and the repercussions for teenagers of someone using their information to apply for a credit card or access other financial resources can be just as serious, if not worse, than the repercussions for an adult. Teenagers don’t typically have a credit history, so having an identity thief damage their credit rating might make it difficult from the beginning to get a good credit history. 

Scams and Online Shopping 

But, online con artists use various methods in addition to identity theft. Internet buying has risks of its own. In the infamous example previously mentioned, a young woman believed she was purchasing an expensive prom dress at a great price only to find out that the dress she received in the mail had nothing in common with the online image. It was of low quality, ill-fitting design, and was not returnable. 

How can Centarus help with Keeping your Teens Safe on the Internet 

Centarus can assist in helping you protect your teens on the internet by first securing all of their devices with the antivirus and firewall services we offer. Our firewall services can also give you the chance to block your teens from viewing any online content that you may not want them seeing. If you need any help or any of these services please get in contact with us here at Centarus today. 

Special thank you to Centarus for writing this blog as a follow up to CORA’s Teens & Tech-Enabled Abuse campaign! Want to learn more about this topic? Check out Cyber Abuse & Teens. 

 

Guest Post: Dayspring Pens

Dayspring Pens is proud to partner with CORA through a donation of 50 engraved pens. It is an honor to be able to donate to an organization that provides safety, support and healing for individuals who experience abuse in an intimate relationship and educates the community to break the cycle of domestic violence.

CORA’s broad spectrum of services address the intergenerational nature of violence with the goal of creating a community where intimate partners treat one another with mutual respect, compassion and integrity. CORA is San Mateo County’s only provider of comprehensive intimate partner abuse prevention services.

Located in Virginia Beach, Dayspring Pens specializes in crafting one of a kind, luxury gift pens made unique with custom engraving. Each of the engraved pens donated features the logo of CORA. It is our great wish that the pens will do some good to help their incredible charity as they work to meet the needs of those who have suffered from domestic violence.

Walking Away from Tech-Enabled Abuse: Michael’s Story

Michael was home from college for the holidays when he met Taylor. Michael hadn’t had a lot of dating experience, but he knew he wanted a relationship.  

After trying out some of the common dating sites like Bumble and Tinder and nothing panned out, he came across a channel on the social platform Discord. The channel was focused on one of his favorite video games, and he thought it would be great to meet someone with that common interest.   

Michael met Taylor in the group, and they quickly made their relationship official. While they never met in person, things felt right and good for a while. They spent a lot of time together online through Discord, texting, and phone calls.  

Somewhere along the way, though, Michael started to feel he and Taylor were too connected—spending too much time together.   

And while it was great that he and Taylor could easily access each other with the help of technology, it was that very same technology that Taylor used to abuse Michael.   

Taylor became unreasonable, expecting constant contact and discouraged Michael from connecting with family.  

Michael saw other issues in his relationship, too. It seemed like he was always to blame for all of their problems. And Taylor became increasingly controlling in frightening ways, threatening self-harm and even suicide if he didn’t do what she said.   

Michael realized his relationship was unhealthy, but he credits his parents with helping him find the courage to break things off. When they witnessed some his communications with Taylor, they recognized the abuse he was enduring. They talked to him about it and it helped him decide what to do.  

Unfortunately, when Michael blocked Taylor on Discord, Taylor created new profiles and kept reaching out. When Michael blocked her number, she called from a different one. In time, Taylor stopped trying to contact Michael.  

Michael shared that Discord allows users to create multiple profiles and blocks are not universal, so if you block an abusive person’s main profile, not all of their profiles or future profiles are automatically blocked, too. He thinks that if there’s one thing social platforms could do to help decrease digital abuse, it would be to make blocks universal and enforce it.  

*Names have been changed for privacy*