"Domestic Violence remains the single largest cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States. Each year, some 2 to 4 million women are battered, and 2,000 of those will eventually die of their injuries. It is a national disgrace that knows no racial, ethnic, age, or socio-economic boundaries."
The Cycle of Violence:
You know what it is, even if you don't know it by its official name. It starts out with rising tensions, harsh words, outbursts of temper, and grows into a climax of anger, terror, and physical injury, invariably followed by apologies and promises that are never kept. In other forms, it may be public or private berating and humiliation, stalking, incessant criticism, or rough and aggressive sexual relations, including spousal rape. The cycle keeps repeating, and gets a little worse each time.
It's not normal:
Anger is a normal, natural, and essential part of all human relationships, and if honest feelings are expressed and useful dialogue results, it's a good thing. Most people handle their anger in a mature and non violent manner. Domestic violence is a learned pattern of behavior in dealing with frustration, conflict, power, and control that some people choose to use. We don't know exactly where it comes from, although some researchers think it might be a part of early imprinting in abusive households.
It's against the law:
There are available laws that prohibit a spouse or domestic partner from injuring, assaulting, menacing, threatening or harassing their partner. The laws are straightforward and easy to enforce, and the Contra Costa County District Attorney is committed to vigorous prosecution of all cases of domestic violence. Restraining orders are now much easier to get, and police can get emergency protective orders on-the-spot.
It doesn't get any better on its own:
Attempts to change the behavior that led up to the violence are useless and personally demeaning. It is not about the fact the beer was not cold enough, or the kids were making too much noise. Most experts now agree that the only effective solution is intervention.
Everybody knows. People don't run into doors and get black eyes, nor do they fall down and break ribs or eardrums. People know what it means to wear dark glasses in the office. Medical professionals, among others, are required by law to report suspected domestic abuse to the local police, and personal denial only delays the inevitable decisions and actions you will need to take.
You need to do something about it:
Being abused causes immediate and obvious injury to the victim, but it also exacts an insidious toll on self esteem and self worth, which we need as much as physical health. But even more than that, children who are forced to witness violence are learning from the two most important people in their lives- learning how men and women treat each other- and how they deal with anger and conflict. For no one else, children must be removed from an abusive environment and parents have a duty and obligation to them. Everyone has a right to be safe and free from violence, and children have a right to grow up in a violence-free household.
We can help, and we want to help.
Feeling trapped and hopeless is a normal, and expected reaction. Without a plan and resources, simply getting up and walking out of a relationship is unrealistic. All relationships, even abusive ones, are complicated with emotional, economic, and legal consequences. We also know that battered persons may call the police many times, and later decline to pursue a criminal action, divorce, or a restraining order. Fortunately, there are a number of skilled professionals that can help you through the steps to bring the violence to an end. We invite you to visit and consult with any of us as you decide exactly what you want to do. Wishing and hoping never fixed anything. Getting out of an abusive relationship is do-able, but it does require some planning and thinking, and the courage and resolve to take the first step.
Police Services: The police will come out to your house any time of the day or night to investigate, counsel, intervene, or arrest those committing domestic violence. Simply call 9-1-1, and we will be there. If you call for help, we will come in your house even over the objection of your partner, talk to you in a safe place away from your partner, and not leave until we can get you and your children to a safe place. We will arrest those who have violated the law, and take them to jail. Sometimes we can just arrest violators on our own, and sometimes we may ask you to to make a citizen's arrest. The officer will explain the alternatives and options to you, and make sure you are safe while we are there. We can arrange to have you notified when an arrested person is about to be released from jail. We will help you seek an emergency protective order so that you are safe from that person, and provide you other information and services to help you go forward in resolution.
In a non- crisis situation, you can stop by the police station at any time, and informally and confidentially consult with an experienced police officer to help you decide on options and choices. Sometimes, that is the best thing to do. Call us at any of the following numbers:
Walnut Creek Police Department:
|Direct- dial emergency and from cell phones:
|Non-emergency; or for messages to officers:
District Attorney's Office:
The District Attorney is your legal representative in a criminal case, and will be prosecuting the person who victimized you. The District Attorney is committed to the safety and security of victims and witnesses. If you are pressing charges, and the offender or his friends are threatening or harassing you, or you just have questions about civil or criminal matters in general, you can call any of the following numbers for advice:
|District Attorney- Victim/ Witness Program:
|District Attorney- Victim/ Witness Assistance- Central and East:
|District Attorney- Victim/ Witness Assistance- West County:
If you need an experienced attorney for your divorce, child custody or support problems, or for a restraining order, contact any one of the following agencies. Fees vary, and some may be on a sliding scale, based on your ability to pay:
|Contra Costa County Bar Association:
|Divorce Centers (Do-it-Yourself Divorce):
|Battered Women's Alternatives Legal Services (see next section as well):
Shelter and Crisis Counseling:
If you need a place to stay, or advice about your immediate problems, contact any of the following agencies. Feel free to contact shelters which are located far from your home. You may be safer if you are harder to find.
|WOMAN, Inc. (clearinghouse of all women's shelter status)
|Battered Women's Alternatives (BWA) 24 Hour Hotline:
|Battered Women's Alternatives (BWA) Legal Services
|Battered Women's Alternatives (BWA) Restraining Order Information
|A Safe Place (Oakland):
|Women's Refuge (Oakland):
||510-547-4663 or 510-658-7231
|Emergency Shelter Program (Hayward):
|La Casa de las Madres (San Francisco):
|Marin Abused Women's Services:
|San Mateo Women's Shelter:
|Tri-Valley Haven (Livermore):
|24-HOUR Counseling and Emergency Food: Central County:
|Bay Area Crisis Nursery (Concord):
|Teen to Teen Hot Line:
|Kid Phone Warm Line:
|Rape Crisis Center West County:
|Rape Crisis Center Central County:
Counseling Services: Fees and services will vary.
|Home, Health, and Counseling- Walnut Creek:
|Home, Health, and Counseling- Antioch:
|Home, Health, and Counseling- Richmond:
|REACH Project- Antioch:
|County Mental Health- Concord:
|County Mental Health- Pittsburg:
|County Mental Health- Richmond:
|For additional referrals, call:
|Battered Women's Alternatives- Men's Program:
|Marin Men's Hot Line
|The Center (Pleasanton)
Restraining Order Information:
What is a restraining order?
A restraining order is a civil (not criminal) order, signed by a judge, that makes it illegal for someone to do certain things, such as harass, threaten, or annoy you. It makes it possible for the police to arrest someone for coming back to your home, or bothering you at work, when those actions would not otherwise be a crime. There are Emergency Protective Orders (EPO's) that the police can get for you, but are only good for a few days, and there are Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO's) that you or your attorney can get, and that are good for a longer period of time. After a hearing at which the restrained person has the right to appear, the order may be made effective for years afterward.
How do you get one, and what does it cost?
To get a restraining order, you must complete an application, and answer the questions. You can do it yourself, or you can get an attorney or an advocate to do it for you. You must say specifically what the person you want restrained has done, and if you have the dates, times, and places, it is much easier. If there have been police reports taken of incidents of harassment or abuse, the dates and case numbers will help. No one expects you to create a perfect legal document, but everything you say or declare must be true, under penalty of perjury. The more specific you can be, the better. You will have a short appearance in front of the judge, who may have questions about your application. The judge will make the final decision of whether the order is granted or not.
Restraining orders cost $96, and about another $20 to get the restrained person served. The police department must also get a certified copy of the order to put in their computer systems. Until the restrained person has been personally served (handed a certified copy by someone over 18 years of age, other than you) the order cannot be enforced. If you cannot pay the fees, ask the judge to waive them.
What happens if the order is violated?
Violations of a restraining order are a misdemeanor crime. If you believe a restraining order has been violated, call the police and make a report. If the restrained person is at your house when the police get there, they may be arrested, or you may make a citizen's arrest. Restraining orders in and of themselves do not guarantee your safety, but they do put the restrained person on notice you intend to assert your rights. It gives the police the ability to arrest someone if they violate the order when an arrest can legally be made.
Who can help with restraining orders? Call any of the following:
|Attorney's Reference Panel:
|Battered Women's Alternatives:
|District Attorney Victim/ Witness Assistance Program:
Can violence be prevented?
Domestic violence is a complicated interaction between two people, and probably has its origins in life experiences and early childhood. It is difficult to predict who may resort to violence under stress, and who will not. We would offer the following suggestions:
Adopt a policy of zero tolerance.
We believe that any act of violence is unacceptable. Some people say that the very first act of violence ends the relationship; others say that with the first act, the declaration of "if this ever happens again, I'm gone" is the right thing to do. Still others want to give counseling a try, if the offender is willing. These are issues you need to discuss with your advocates and counselors, to reach a decision you feel comfortable with. What is not a good idea, however, is to do nothing, and have no plan. Left unchecked, violence will continue, and only get worse.
Beware of the danger signs:
Watch your partner to see how they treat people who are not in an equal power position, such as waitresses, and salespeople. If frustration in dealing with them results in anger, abuse, and outbursts, you can count on the same will be directed at you at a later time. Also, be wary of jealous, possessive, or controlling behavior- no one is a possession to be owned by someone else, and no caring person takes other people's decisions away from them, or tries to keep them away from their friends or relatives. It's not love or caring- it's abuse.
Have a trusted network of friends you can confide in:
Abusers try to isolate the people they abuse, and keep them away from their friends. It's easier to dominate and control someone if they have no one else to go to. If something is going on in the relationship that just doesn't feel right, always have someone you can discuss these matters with, and whose opinion you trust. If your partner is suspicious or jealous of the time you spend with your friends that you had before the relationship, that is a really big warning signal that should not be ignored. Finally, be a friend to someone else and help them if they are in a dangerous situation.