A woman’s partner hits her in their home while their children watch. In this episode of intimate partner violence, he physically beats her until he breaks her ribs.
Her case of abuse was reported to the San Luis Obispo Women’s Shelter Program (WSP), which has assisted about one hundred victims of abuse a day since it was incorporated in 1979. Because California recently cut the program’s funding by 15 percent; it relies on private donations to keep the services free to low-income clients.
Cal Poly sociology junior and WSP intern Emily Kent is organizing a fundraiser to benefit the victims of physical, emotional, sexual, financial and verbal abuse. Walk Away from Intimate Partner Violence, a 5k run or walk, will be at Laguna Lake Park on May 15. She hopes to raise $3000.
“The money I raise will help supplement the loss of grants,” she said. “One of my main purposes of organizing this race is to let people know WSP is a valuable resource in our community.”
WSP offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, safe houses for women and children fleeing violent relationships, transitional housing, legal services and counseling to help victims.
“Everyone: males, females, homosexuals, transgender, can get counseling and legal advice,” said Beth Raub, director of volunteer and outreach services of the shelter program. “Only women and children can use the housing.”
The services are free about 90 percent of the time; when someone has a higher income, it becomes a sliding scale.
15 percent of all U.S. adults admit that they were victims of domestic violence, according to the 2005 U.S. Census.
“These women don’t have a voice, they are trapped in the relationships and being put down constantly,” Kent said.
Students can choose to do research or a community project to fulfill their senior project, which is required to graduate.
“We talk a lot about domestic violence, sexual assault and patriarchy and how they affect women’s safety,” assistant professor Chris Bickel said.
Sociology students look at a social issue, understand it and approve it, he added.
Kent said organizing the race has been a valuable experience for the work she’ll be doing after she graduates in fall.
“I’ve learned how to interact with people and I’ve set up a huge event that has required me to community organize,” she said. “When I start doing social work, I’ll have experience with putting together a fundraiser.”
The terrain for the race is totally flat, and half of the race is around the lake, she added.
“It’s going to be a good time more than a serious race,” Kent said.
Registration costs $30. Runners receive a T-shirt and winners of each age divisions will be awarded gift cards. For information on the race visit www.walkawayfromIPV.com.
WSP makes a huge impact on the women that use the services.
“When women come out of the shelter, they are changed and confident,” Kent said. “They know how to speak for themselves and be assertive.”