The month of October is filled with many acknowledgments. One of these is domestic violence awareness, a month to recognize domestic violence survivors. Congress decided in 1989 to declare October the month to build awareness for people who are victims of domestic violence, as it affects around ten million people in the United States per year.
“If we raise awareness then more people will want to solve the problem,” said an anonymous San Marcos student. “It also lets victims know they aren’t alone which could lead them into taking further action against their abuser.”
A place in Santa Barbara that provides help for these victims is the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County. Legal Aid is a non-profit organization that has excellent attorneys and people working there constantly. They have helped thousands of victims of domestic violence have a voice and make a difference in what is right. In just this year, Legal Aid has helped 93 victims of domestic violence, 85 of them being females and 8 being males. These victims usually occur in the age group of 25- 59 years old, and are mainly Hispanic. In 2020, Legal Aid had a spark, helping 140 victims, 16 of them being males and 124 being females. However, these numbers do not account for the people that do not speak up, and that is why October is such an important month to bring awareness to the problem and resolve it. Legal Aid has provided so much help to the Santa Barbara community.
When I asked Elizabeth Diaz, an attorney that has worked at Legal Aid for 25 years, about why she became a lawyer, this is what her response was,“ [I] wanted to help people, especially people that don’t have a voice like women and children that are abused.”
Elizabeth had a dream about becoming a lawyer since she was a little girl. And her dad believed in her every step of the way.
“My dad was so excited that I was going to be a lawyer, I just couldn’t let him down, and that’s what pushed me to keep going,” said Diaz. “Legal Aid brings free legal service for low income people, seniors. Also for people suffering from sexual assault and human trafficking.”
Elizabeth Diaz volunteered at Legal Aid from 1991 to 1994, then took a break to focus on law school and came back to Legal Aid in 1999 as an attorney and has worked there ever since. Legal Aid is just one place in Santa barbara that helps provide an outlet, another organization that gives help and advice for victims is, Domestic Violence Solutions in Santa Barbara.
So as you roll through October into November, recognize and build awareness for Domestic violence by telling other people or showing them how to get help if they need it. Build awareness, learn about it, and educate others.
Number to contact Legal Aid Foundation: (805) – 963 – 6754
Legal Aid Foundation Website: https://www.lafsbc.org