In March of 2010, Mary Kay funded a survey of over 700 domestic violence shelters across the country to verify what those of us working in the field have long noticed; over the past 18 months there has been a marked increase in women seeking assistance with problems of abuse. Most of this increase is attributed to financial issues with more than half stemming from job loss. More than half of the shelters report that the abuse is more violent now than it was before the downturn.

Detailed findings from the 2010 “Mary Kay Truth About Abuse” survey reveal alarming trends, including:

* 88 percent of domestic violence shelters expect their overall situation during the next 12 months will be worse than now, or the same as now, in light of the economy.

* Three out of four domestic violence shelters (77 percent) report an increase in women seeking assistance from abuse.

* 75 percent of shelters attribute this rise in abuse to “financial issues.”

* 54 percent of shelters link this increase in domestic violence to “job loss.”

* More than half (57 percent) of women in shelters can’t find employment due to the economy.

* 51 percent of shelters nationwide note the abuse is more violent now than before the economic downturn.

After overcoming the challenges of abuse in my own life, I began working with victims of domestic violence. Despite the fact that I consider myself a strong person, I fell prey to abuse. I blamed myself for my situation and stayed because of circumstances of economic dependency and cultural pressures. Like many other women, I felt I had no options because of the attitudes of my community that both pardoned and indirectly helped sustain the violence. The prevalence of control and abuse against women is pervasive throughout our society. It is imperative that we reach out to all women by talking about what love should look like. Education is crucial for traumatized women who simply do not know how to ask for help and cannot afford to leave. Women don’t really understand what options are open to them.

Domestic violence is a societal problem that does not discriminate. Even as I write, many women, men and children in the United States are physically, emotionally, and sexually abused. We must speak out and refuse to accept the abuse of. “We must speak out and refuse to accept the abuse in our community-this is a matter of life and death”.

Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County works to end the intergenerational cycle of domestic violence by providing prevention and intervention services and by challenging society’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to affect social change. If you or someone you know need help please call our 24 hour hotline (South County) 964-5245 (North County SM) 925-2160 (Lompoc) 737-0073. For more information, please see our website


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