Homelessness, domestic violence connection discussed

homelessness and violence—State Senator Susan Rubio from the 22nd district shares stories on domestic violence and how it shapes peoples lives. CN/ Steven Adamo

By Steven Adamo

State Senator Susan Rubio visited East Los Angeles College Tuesday for a panel discussion on the connections between domestic violence and homelessness. The panel was organized by the ELAC Foundation’s Transforming Lives Campaign.

According to Rubio, 60% of women have reported that there’s a direct link between their homelessness and domestic violence. 

Rubio said victims are often faced with the difficult choice of whether or not to stay in an abusive relationship or be homeless. “Either way, it’s not a healthy situation,” Rubio said.

Rubio shared some of her own experiences with domestic violence and how, as a senator, she can help pass laws that tackle the issue directly. 

In October, Rubio’s SB273 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, which extends the statute of limitation of domestic abuse from three years to five. 

Rubio partnered with actors Evan Rachel Wood and Esmé Bianco on the bill, who are also survivors of domestic abuse.

“I never thought that myself… an elected official, a council member… that that could ever happen to me,” Rubio said. 

“Before you know it, you’re caught in a web of circumstance and the last thing you want to do is judge others when it happens to them.”

In September, the governor signed SB316, another one of Rubio’s bills, which mandates every school in California between grades seven and 12 to print a phone number to a domestic violence hotline on the back of every student’s ID card.

“Not only do the victims need to know that they have resources, to see the back of the card and know they have a number to call,” Rubio said. 

“I’d also like the abusers to see that there’s a number that can be called where they can get in trouble.”  

Barbara Kappos from the East Los Angeles Women’s Center said resources are available at their offices for victims of domestic violence, as well as the student health center. 

“Every person is entitled to a life free of violence,” Kappos said. “Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.”

The Women’s Center provides many services including counseling, crisis-intervention, emergency shelter and a transitional house. 

Kappos shared a conversation she had with some of the struggles women at the transitional house experienced. 

Some were afraid to report their domestic abuse out of fear of losing their house, their children and other repercussions.

Kappos hopes that more effort will go into prevention so that circumstances don’t get worse.

“We’ve been on many of these journeys with women who have experienced losing everything, their home, their dignity.” 

“We start from ground zero and we start to build. It really takes the support from all of us to help those individuals move forward in their lives.”

Kappos also discussed ELAC’s weekly Men’s circle. She gave one example where a person shared his experiences with violence. 

She said he worked to become a better individual and keep his family together.

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