“Domestic Violence is the most common violent crime in our county,” said District Attorney Joyce Dudley at Thursday night’s candlelight vigil at Paseo Nuevo. While young adults aged 16-25 experience higher rates of abuse, “domestic violence does not discriminate,” added Jan Campbell executive director of Domestic Violence Solutions (DVS) . “It affects all genders, ages, income, and education levels.” The vigil was held to honor lives lost to domestic violence and to celebrate the resilience of survivors.
Last year, four women in Santa Barbara County lost their lives because of domestic violence. Dudley has created a taskforce to attempt to reduce that number to zero, she said. So far this year, nobody in the county has died from domestic violence, but many have suffered injuries and live in fear, said Campbell. While the number of homicides is down, the number of victims is on par with the numbers of 2017, Campbell added.
Darleen Gregory is a survivor of domestic violence. She shared her story with attendees and passersby that were drawn to the crowd. Gregory first noticed control and paranoia from her partner but wrote it off as love and concern, she said. Then things began to get physical. “It started with a push or a shove but things got worse,” said Gregory. One night her partner pushed Gregory into the counter and began punching her in the face. Gregory feared for her life. A week after the incident, she felt safe enough to leave and took her two-year-old son and two-month-old daughter with her to a shelter in Santa Barbara. “When I first got to the shelter, I just slept,” said Gregory. “Even the kids slept. We finally felt safe.”
DVS operates 24-hour hotlines in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Santa Ynez. The Santa Barbara line is 805-964-5245. Visit their website for more information.