Domestic Violence Conference
Over 200 partcipants came together to raise awareness on the issue
April 10, 2006 12:29 PM
Every 9 seconds, a woman is beaten in the United States.
The Web site for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) also reported that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, especially to those between 20 and 34 years of age.
To raise awareness on the issue of domestic violence, over 200 students and social workers from across the Bay Area gathered together at Jack Adams Hall on March 24 for an eight-hour conference, which began at 9 a.m.
The public meeting, organized by SF State graduate students in social work, Lisa Shapiro and Stephanie Manfre, offered education on the issue and certification for practicing social workers throughout the community.
According to Manfre, the idea for the event stemmed from the observation that nowhere in the curriculum was domestic violence included for a masters' degree in social work.
�A background in domestic violence is crucial, the more education there is, the more we can work to prevent it,� Manfre said.
The conference brought out many speakers, including Assemblyman Leland Yee.
�Each one of us can in fact make a difference,� Yee said.
Speaking briefly on his participation in the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC), Yee explained how one staff person - who started the effort in San Mateo - brought the campaign to his attention.
The WRC - established in 1991 by a small group of Canadian men - is now the largest effort in the world of men working to end men's violence against women, according to its Web site.
The campaign includes distributing education and action kits to schools and speaking out on issues of public policy.
�Domestic violence is not just about women,� Yee said. �...so maybe, we should get men to start talking to men. We all have to stand up and say, �enough is enough.��
According to the Web site for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 5.3 million incidents of intimate partner violence against women reported each year.
�It is important to think about how many people we�re talking about here,� said Lisa Polacci, one of the speakers and the community director for La Casa de las Madres, San Francisco's oldest and largest shelter for battered women and their children. �One in five young women have experienced domestic violence.�
The conference covered issues ranging from challenges facing immigrant and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community (LGBT), victims of domestic violence, to children�s involvement and navigating the criminal justice system.
�Domestic violence crosses all lines,� Polacci said. �It does not discriminate based on culture, race, age. It�s in every one of our populations.�
Shawna Virago, the program director of the Community United Against Violence (CUAV), spoke to the specific concerns of the LGBT community.
�Queer people face a lot of biases,� said Virago, a domestic violence survivor. �There are not a lot of queer sensitive agencies, queer sensitive batterer intervention programs, and they face a lack of gay shelters.�
Beyond the standard types of domestic violence power and control, Virago noted that the homosexual community faces abuse in the form of hiding HIV medications, or in the case of the transgendered, hiding hormone therapies. In addition, the gay community is threatened with being �outed," he said.
Beckie Masaki, executive director of the Asian Women�s Shelter in San Francisco, addressed the specific challenges faced by immigrant victims of domestic violence.
The power and control tools used to oppress women in immigrant communities frequently come in the form of language barriers, immigration status, and societal expectations, she said.
Women are unable to leave their oppressors because they do not speak or understand the language used around them, said Masaki, adding that they fear deportation because they may not be �legal� residents, or they are restricted to the role their culture assigns them.
Hong Mai, a second year graduate student in the social work program, attended the conference for specific reasons.
�There is still so much to know about domestic violence,� Mai said. �As a practitioner, I am hoping to learn the right language and mannerisms for dealing with victims of domestic violence.�
The culmination of Shapiro's and Manfre's efforts to organize such a conference took over a year to finalize.
For more information on the NCADV, visit www.ncadv.org.
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