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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in county
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Thousands of women become victims of domestic violence in Stanislaus County each year. Although not every victim can come forward to seek help, many agencies throughout the county continue their daily efforts to help save those who do.

Earlier this month, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors deemed the month of October as Domestic Violence Awareness month in Stanislaus County. According to the Stanislaus Family Justice Center, more than 3,000 domestic violence calls for help are received by local law enforcement annually.

Agencies such as the Women's Haven Center make it their mission to help provide safe shelters for victims of domestic violence, as well as offer a variety of support services.

"A lot of victims of domestic violence have no options for places to go if they are threatened or in danger," said Belinda Rolicheck, executive director of the Women's Haven Center of Stanislaus. "Our primary purpose is to provide a safe shelter for them. Beyond that, we offer a great deal of supportive services."

Rolicheck acknowledged that due to different circumstances, not every woman feels as though they can leave an abusive relationship whether it be for financial, emotional, or reasons of safety.

"We know that not every woman can leave the relationship, so we help them assess their goals and what they want, and then we help them reach those goals," said Rolicheck. "We work to empower them to make their own choices. We help them understand that they do not have to stay in an abusive relationship, and we help them explore the different options that we can help provide."

The Women's Haven Center currently has an administrative service location in both Modesto and Turlock, as well as a shelter at an undisclosed location. Three staff members of the Women's Haven Center are also stationed at the Stanislaus Family Justice Center in Modesto.

The center offers a myriad of services to help victims of domestic violence, including an emergency shelter, a 24-hour crisis line and trauma response, support groups, one-on-one counseling, legal services for temporary restraining and custody orders, child services and counseling, outreach and education, case management and a volunteer program.

Last year alone, the Women's Haven Center received 491 individual callers on the 24-hour crisis line, 273 individuals utilizing the counseling services, 348 individuals seeking legal assistance, 46 victims receiving trauma response at local hospitals, 281 women and children in the emergency shelter, and 6,152 bed nights.

"The shelter is pretty much full most of the year," said Rolicheck.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime, while health related costs of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year.

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 3 in 4 women who reported they had been raped and/or physically assaulted since the age of 18 said that it was an intimate partner who had committed the assault. The Bureau of Justice also found that intimate partner homicide accounted for 30 percent of the murders of women, and five percent of the murders of men.

The Women's Haven Center of Stanislaus can be reached at (209) 524-4331, or at the 24-hour crisis line at (209) 577-5980.