July 16, 2024
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Editorial: Domestic violence is a business issue, too


We’ve been reminded recently of the tremendous toll that domestic violence takes on our region’s families and our economy and of the need for businesses to participate in dealing with this issue.

The latest reminder came  from Ventura County’s Interface Children and Family Services. Faced with the sudden loss of funding for a very successful intervention program, the nonprofit has launched a campaign to replace some $500,000 a year in lost state funding with private donations and an emergency reserve. In Santa Barbara County, Domestic Violence Solutions has launched a media campaign to raise awareness and is looking for volunteers and additional funding, said Richard Kravetz, executive director.

Domestic violence costs California $2.7 billion annually in direct costs and it takes an even bigger toll when you count absenteeism and lost productivity.

“With economic pressures of housing and unemployment families tend to get stressed out,” Erik Sternad, executive director of Interface, said.

Until recently, state funding was available to assist Interface in creating a small but effective intervention team that could work alongside law enforcement and public safety officials to intervene and get victims of domestic violence a fast track to services including emergency shelter. That funding dried up suddenly this fall, but Interface has plugged the gap temporarily with emergency funding. It’s now going out for a permanent source of funding and Sternad thinks that in the future locally based programs will bear most of the burden for dealing with domestic violence in our communities.

The Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Center of San Luis Obispo County, the county’s only sexual assault crisis center, is largely funded with private money and is  counting on a Nov. 19 fundraiser at the Edna Valley Vineyard  to enable it to deliver services free of charge to that county.

For employers, dealing with domestic violence is more than just writing checks, Sternad said.  Employers who witness employees who come to work with signs of abuse or injury due to domestic violence may be tempted to ignore warning signs or anticipate that things will get better over time. That’s usually just wishful thinking. Domestic violence often goes unreported, it leads to absenteeism and lost productivity and it can spill over into the workplace if it is ignored.