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The pandemic is changing how we think about domestic violence, new survey shows (


Amid a pandemic that shined a harsh light on domestic violence, Californians are increasingly viewing these abuses as a pressing social issue, according to a new survey of nearly 2,000 adults.

Two-thirds of Californians consider domestic violence a public issue rather than private family matter, and 91% of participants said domestic violence is a serious societal issue, the survey found.

“This info has given some validation to things folks have been talking about for a long time anecdotally,” said Jacquie Marroquin, director of programs for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. “We can use this data to support the work of folks on the ground.”

The survey by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, which also provides funding for the Center for Health Journalism, examined how the collision of the pandemic, racism and domestic violence has impacted the state’s residents, particularly low-income communities of color. The findings reveal deep inequities and starkly different experiences depending upon one’s race and ethnicity. At the same time, the report points to some common ground when it comes to strategies for preventing and healing from domestic violence

Among the other findings: 27% of Californians surveyed said they experienced abuse in the home as a child or they witnessed domestic violence in their household. Of those who experienced abuse as a child, 64% have friends or family who experienced domestic violence, 42% have friends or family who committed abuse against a romantic partner; and 34% have experienced domestic violence themselves.

And, eight in 10 people said they support alternatives to jail for people who cause domestic violence.

Those numbers resonated on a personal level with Marroquin. As a childhood survivor of domestic violence, she could relate to the idea of wanting “this idea of healing” for people instead of jail as the only option.

Marroquin advocates for a more holistic view of domestic violence and its impact on families. “It’s the impact of violence and abuse that reverberates through the community, through generations,” she said. “That healing process takes a lot longer than crisis intervention. There is long-term healing we don’t often hear about.”

The survey found broad bipartisan support for alternatives to jail for people who cause domestic violence. These include strategies such as counseling, supervision by a social worker, or restitution to the person who experienced the violence such as paying for their therapy, medical expenses, or employment loss. Nine in 10 Californians support child care, food, housing, and transportation assistance to help survivors, while eight in 10 said they’d support paid leave from work and cash assistance.

These finding shows that many Californians understand the complex factors contributing to domestic violence, Khan said. The more pressures you have in a home, the greater the risk for violence, she said.

To read more of Kellie Schmitt's article, please click here.

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