OAKLAND (BCN) — Alameda County has a long way to go to stop violence against women, but U.S. Department of Justice officials Thursday commended the work the county has done in the last 10 years.
Bea Hanson, acting director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, said the Alameda County Family Justice Center is an example of a collaborative effort to respond to violence against women.
Hanson has been visiting communities around the nation in the last year that are doing excellent work coordinating responses to violence against women. The tour is in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, passed by Congress in 1994.
“Alameda County is one of those exemplar communities,” Hanson said.
About 10 years ago Alameda County had wonderful programs to address violence against women, “but they were disjointed services,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said. “Victims had to do all the work.”
O’Malley said the county had agencies working to prevent the violence but they were scattered across the county. She said too many barriers meant no services at all.
O’Malley said agency officials in Alameda County said to themselves in 2004, “We can do better.”
Thirty agencies are now represented at the Alameda County Family Justice Center, which responds to crimes including elder abuse, human trafficking, child sexual abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence.
The family justice center aims to be a one-stop location for survivor access to legal, health and other services to bring them safety, recovery and wellness. The center also empowers survivors and their families so they can heal and thrive.
“We have to give people a future,” O’Malley said.
“It’s all of us working together,” Hanson said.
Hanson said one in four women in their lifetime will be a victim of domestic violence and one in six women in their lifetime will be a victim of stalking. She added that the problems affect men too.
The U.S. Department of Justice has given out $15 million in the last 15 years to Alameda County as part of the effort to stop violence against women.
“This has been a real opportunity for us,” Hanson said.
The Alameda County Family Justice Center will celebrate a 10-year anniversary July 5 during which it has served more than 97,000 women, children and men in the Bay Area.
Center officials said 1,300 people die in the U.S. from interpersonal and family violence each year. In the Bay Area law enforcement received more than 14,000 domestic violence calls in 2012 and thousands more didn’t make the call, center officials said.
“We have a lot more work to do,” Hanson said.