Traumatic events leave an imprint on people – that’s the basis for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a condition that has people stuck living in the past emotionally. Most of us know of it in relation to the many service members who come back with it. It’s a primary cause of the reported 22 veteran suicides a day that happen in America. In reality the number is probably higher due to miscategorization and the “accidental overdoses” that happen. People with PTSD tend to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol because they are living a life that is always on edge – it’s often called ‘walking on eggshells.’

If you’ve known someone who has been to war, and is suffering from PTSD they can be very particular about their interactions, how they are seated in a restaurant and they can ‘overreact’ to perceived slights. They tend to have an explosive personality, mostly due to the amount of stress, anger, hurt and fear they are trying to contain all the time.

For victims of domestic violence, living in a household with an abuser can have the same effect as being a war veteran. They’ve been living in a constant state of readiness and alertness to any potential physical or verbal explosion, and that continues even when the war is over, or the abuser is out of the home.

This is one of the effects that was discussed at last month’s Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect or “ICAN” 20th annual training conference held at the Sheraton Universal in Burbank. ICAN is headed by Executive Director Deanne Tilton Durfee and is the official Los Angeles County agent to coordinate the development of services for the prevention, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect.

This year’s conference had Dr. Sheryl Cooper giving her keynote address, The Quagmire of Abuses of Children and Families. In doing research for my documentary, “What About The Men? Exploring the Hidden Side of Domestic Violence” I had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Cooper about the long term effects of living in abusive homes and her response was, “it’s a child abuse to prison pipeline.”

In order for us to reduce our prison population we need to make home and family a safer environment for children. The long-term ramifications of domestic violence are not just on the individuals involved, they ripple out across our society, emotionally, financially, and demonstrate what we most value.

The more that we reduce violence and abuse in the home, the more we will reduce it across society, and that means that we free up resources for other projects and initiatives. By reducing the number of abused children today, we reduce the number of police interactions tomorrow and eventually the number of prisoners who consume a huge portion of our state and federal budget.

Obviously the question becomes how do we reduce the incidence of abuse in the home? Part of the answer comes from the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council (DVC), which is chaired by Michele L. Daniels from the District Attorney’s office along with vice-chairs Pat Butler from Santa Monica’s Sojourn Services For Adult And Child Victims Of Domestic Violence and Diane Franklin of the West Covina Police Department. The Council’s Executive Director is Olivia Rodriguez, who works with service providers to coordinate services, needs, policy and outreach for the county. Each October in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month, the council puts on a resource fair next to the Hall of Administration, this year it is October 20 (next Tuesday) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Grand Park- Olive Court. This year there are at least 20 agencies participating, including Sojourn Services from Ocean Park Community Center.

Each year the DVC honors an individual who has contributed immensely to the reduction and prevention of domestic violence. The award is named in honor of Betty Fisher who served the DVC as First Vice Chair for many years while also serving on the Board of the Southern California Coalition for Battered Women. This year’s award is being presented to Terra Russell Slavin Esq., Deputy Director of Public Policy and Community Building, Los Angeles LGBT Center for her years of devotion and hard work in the domestic violence field.

I’ve been attending the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council meetings trainings, conferences, and summits and trust me when I say that the work these people do is emotionally draining, and inspirational. It is both unbelievably spider webbed in its causes and effects, and those who take up the fight are not faint of heart or dilettantes. So when they recognize an individual for impressive accomplishments it’s a safe bet that the recipient is a person of great character – and having met Ms. Slavin, I know it to be true once again.

If you can attend the resource on the 20th, there are going to be food trucks, many different agencies representing different constituencies and I expect it to be an eye opening experience at the depth and breadth of services that are provided across our county. It is one more step in the long walk to ending domestic violence.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.

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