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Santa Monica City Hall Exhibit Shines Light on Domestic Violence


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 25, 2017 -- A walk through the lobby of Santa Monica City Hall this month will bring home a problem “as searing as it is common,” says City Manager Rick Cole.

Often unreported and, as a result, hard to prosecute, domestic violence is a reality for one in three women in California, according the federal Centers for Disease Control.

It adds up to about 4.5 million females, officials said. Men experience such violence as well, but on a smaller scale, experts say.

Domestic Violence exhibit at Santa Monica  City Hall
Domestic Violence Month exhibit at City Hall (Courtesy City of Santa Monica)

Part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the exhibit at City Hall was organized by Halima Barreto, who works as the Family Victim Advocate in the City Attorney's Office.

Cole, in an October post to his The Long View blog, found the exhibit powerful, and looked at the far-reaching impacts.

He noted domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families -- a point that hits home in Santa Monica, which experienced a 26 percent jump in its homeless population, and Greater Los Angeles, which saw a 24 percent rise. 
“Violence in the home knows no boundaries of age or background,” the post said. “Shockingly, every day an average of three women die at the hands of a current or former partner.

"Even when abuse is psychological, it can leave lifelong scars."
Cole said the sexual harassment scandal involving Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein “has given us all a ‘teachable moment.’”

“In the City Hall exhibit, there’s a poster that proclaims: “No More Boys Will Be Boys.” The outpouring of hundreds of anguished stories of #MeToo forces us to confront the uncomfortable truth that the dehumanizing and exploitation of women takes place everywhere, not just in posh hotel rooms."
“Bombarded as we are with violence and bad news in the media, awareness of what may be happening next door can actually save a life. Too often victims are not believed, too often those who can help them feel powerless. 

Bringing domestic violence into the light can help "stop the chain of violence and abuse, usually against the most vulnerable among us. 

"There is a darkness in the human soul," Cole wrote. "But there is also a burning light. Our duty and our opportunity is to shine the light to banish the dark.

"It is not easy to look squarely at our own faults and those of family members, neighbors and co-workers. But if we look away, it will go on. And on. And on. We are better than that, even if we are far from perfect." 


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