An Uncomfortable Truth
During this holiday season, we all hope for the same thing: a celebration we will never forget, a season spent at home enjoying those we love the most.
Sadly, the uncomfortable truth is that each Christmas season some people will become victims of domestic abuse.
While the holidays can bring great joy, they can also be very stressful—finances are strained, people spend more time at home, kids become impatient, alcohol use increases, and tempers can flare.
Sometimes, this causes abusers to take their frustrations out on family members.
Domestic violence is not rare in Ukiah; in fact, it occurs all too often. This year, the Ukiah Police Department responded to 373 domestic violence-related incidents. Officers were dispatched to homes where emotionally charged family members with access to guns, knives and other weapons struggled against each other.
Most officers will tell you that responding to domestic violence calls is one of the most dangerous aspects of their jobs–and one of their least favorite–but one they treat very seriously.
Every law enforcement agency in Mendocino County has adopted a strict domestic abuse policy: if an officer sees evidence that domestic violence has occurred, that officer MUST arrest the suspected abuser.
The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence says that although domestic violence can increase during the holidays, calls for emergency services related to domestic violence usually decrease through the holidays. It is not until the beginning of the New Year that calls for assistance increase. Experts say that victims often try to keep families together during the holidays, but by New Year’s Day victims have had enough of the violence and they seek help.
Those who need help locally can call the 24-hour hotline: 707-463-HELP (that’s 463-4357). Callers will be connected with Project Sanctuary, a truly amazing organization dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual abuse in our community.
Project Sanctuary began in Ukiah in the fall of 1978 to provide emergency shelter and support for women abused by their partners. In 1980, Project Sanctuary added rape crisis services; and in 1991, they established a counseling center in Fort Bragg.
Today, Project Sanctuary serves more than 2,000 people each year, helping many victims break the cycle of abuse. The organization also offers classes in women empowerment and anger management.
Project Sanctuary serves more than just women; today more and more male victims are seeking help with issues like childhood molestation and/or partner abuse. Project Sanctuary can help anyone who is a victim of domestic violence and/or sexual abuse and assault without regard to gender or sexual orientation.
All of the law enforcement agencies in Mendocino County enjoy a positive, productive working relationship with Project Sanctuary, and know that victims who seek assistance through Project Sanctuary receive the best care possible.
Project Sanctuary offers assistance 24-hours-a-day via their resource telephone line, staffed with domestic violence counselors who can help victims obtain counseling, information about local services, and how to break the cycle of abuse. Again, that number is 707-463-HELP (463-4357).
In Ukiah, Project Sanctuary is located at 564 S. Dora St. Suite A-1. Their office phone number is 707-462-9196, and they are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can find them online at www.projectsanctuary.org or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that by bringing up this uncomfortable – but critical – topic this Christmas season, that people will educate themselves about the signs of domestic violence so they are better able to recognize it and help victims of abuse.
No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you or someone you know feels threatened by a partner or spouse, call Project Sanctuary. They can help.
Here at the Ukiah Police Department we hope everyone can celebrate the holidays free from fear or violence.
And, we wish you peace and joy with those you love most. Merry Christmas!
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.