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Concerning Increase In Local Domestic Violence Crimes

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors declared October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

At today’s meeting there was a presentation from officials with the District Attorney’s Office, the DA’s Victim Witness program, and the Center for a Non-Violent Community (CNVC).

Pamela Orebaugh, Community Services Coordinator with CNVC, noted that there is a strong correlation often between domestic violence trauma and homelessness. She encouraged county leaders to “plant seeds” of violence prevention in the community. She warned that weeds can overtake a garden at any time if it isn’t tended.

Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Novelli noted that she has recently witnessed a “domestic epidemic within the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In 2019, she stated there were 357 referrals to the DA’s Office for domestic violence (9.4-percent of the DA’s total referrals that year). In 2020 there were 353 referrals (9.1-percent of total).

As of October 11th of 2021, there have already been 358 domestic violence referrals (12.9-percent of total referrals).

Novelli added, “Unfortunately, in my experience, the holidays bring an uptick for referrals and we are on trend to hit 460 domestic violence referrals by the end of the year. That is a 30-percent increase from 2020.”

The DA’s Victim Witness program also continues to provide services in the community for anyone who needs it.

It was noted by Orebaugh that the community has been experiencing “collective trauma” recently due to things like COVID’s economic impact, schools being closed, and people being afraid and vulnerable to contracting the virus. Unfortunately, she says people who don’t have the coping skills are “hurt and confused,” and “turn to hurting others.” They also can turn to drugs and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

The Supervisors voted 5-0 to declare this month as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

CNVC has a 24-hour crisis line available locally. Anyone needing to speak with someone can call 209-533-3401.