Family Violence Council June 12, 2007 Press Release

*** Press Release ***

For Immediate Release

June 12, 2007

Contact: Laura Marshall

(415) 252-2578

Mayor Newsom, Supervisor Maxwell, and District Attorney Harris

Introduce New Measures Against Family Violence

(San Francisco, CA) Mayor Gavin Newsom, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, and District Attorney Kamala Harris join forces against an epidemic plaguing San Francisco: family violence. The Mayor and Supervisor will introduce legislation revitalizing San Francisco's Family Violence Council, a body that will advise the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor, and the Courts, and coordinate prevention efforts and services for survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse.

Mayor Newsom has made both personal and public commitments to ending violence in San Francisco, recently becoming a Founding Father in the Family Violence Prevention Fund's national campaign on family violence awareness. The Family Violence Council is an important component of my policy initiatives in this area. As a Founding Father, I pledged to honor women and condemn any and all violence against them. The work of the Council takes this pledge a step further by condemning all forms of family violence throughout the lifespan. Mayor Newsom has also issued an Executive Directive to all City departments, mandating their response to the recommendations from the San Francisco Domestic Violence Safety and Accountability Audit conducted by the Department on the Status of Women last fall: Collaboration between criminal justice agencies and community providers is a critical step in closing the gaps that leave victims unsafe.

Supervisor Maxwell agreed to co-sponsor the Family Violence Council legislation with the Mayor, stating, Violence in our communities, and in our families, is a high priority, not only among my constituents, but for all San Franciscans.

District Attorney Harris has been a leader in family violence prevention efforts for years. My staff has been integrally involved in the 18-month planning process for the Family Violence Council, as well as with the Safety and Accountability Audit, and I look forward to contributing as a member of the Council.

With only 72 domestic violence shelter beds and 2 elder abuse shelter beds in San Francisco, there are few options for women, children, and elders attempting to leave violent homes. For every woman that receives shelter, 5 are turned away. According to Beverly Upton, Director of the Domestic Violence Consortium, The Family Violence Council is a powerful tool to help San Francisco improve coordination and increase the options available to survivors of abuse. It will also support the criminal justice system's efforts to hold batterers accountable for their crimes.

County Family Violence Councils, created through a State Attorney General recommendation, typically address only domestic violence. In San Francisco, a multi-agency team has worked for the past 18 months to redesign and broaden the scope of the Family Violence Council to include children, elders, and other vulnerable populations. Kathy Baxter, Director of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Council, and a member of this team, is pleased with the result. The San Francisco Family Violence Council is not like any other Council in the State. It is new and different, and could become a statewide model, by addressing the issue of violence throughout the lifespan.

Mary Twomey of the Institute on Aging commented, For every hour you are at work, there is a call to Adult Protective Services about an elder or dependent adult being abused. These are some of our most vulnerable residents, and the Family Violence Council will ensure we are protecting them adequately.

A unique and vital aspect of San Francisco's Family Violence Council is its inclusion of representatives from all aspects of the family violence prevention community. Antonio Ramirez of POCOVI, a non-profit that work with batterers, said, Batterer intervention programs have not been included in many of the dialogues about family violence. This is an important table to be seated at.

Commissioner Andrea Evans of the Commission on the Status of Women shepherded the revitalization process: I invite all stakeholders to participate in the newly constituted Family Violence Council.