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Walk benefits victims of domestic violence

OCEANSIDE — A fundraising walk will help programs for perhaps the most vulnerable victims of domestic violence and sexual assault — the children of sufferers. 

The Friends of Women’s Resource Center Walk Away From Domestic Violence fundraiser and awareness walk will take place on Oct. 14.

“It’s not a pretty subject,” JoAnn Bowers, chair of the Friends of Women’s Resource Center, said. “We have to raise awareness and compassion for change.”

Funds raised from the walk will support the resource center’s children’s programs and facilities. The goal is to give children healthy experiences and break the cycle of family violence through children’s counseling, play therapy, one-on-one mentoring, and group field trips.

“Counseling is so important at a young age,” Laura Stephenson, Women’s Resource Center events coordinator, said. “At the teenage age they learn a sense of normalcy and security.”

The goal is to raise $5,000 through the walk.

“Moms are doing their best focusing on recovery and working,” Bowers said. “Children are out of their familiar surroundings and parents might not have the time or resources to take their children to the movies or miniature golfing.”

Prior fundraising efforts helped renovate the children’s playroom at the center with new toys, storage boxes and a flat screen television.

“There’s so much to be said about an organized, nice environment,” Bowers said. “It elevates their sense of pride, importance and security.”

On walk day, supporters will meet up at the Jolly Roger restaurant for a 1-mile walk to the Beach Break Cafe in the harbor and back.

The walk is a way to show support for victims and take a visible community stand against domestic violence.

“This is happening every single day,” Stephenson said. “We receive numerous calls or someone walks through our door.”

“We need to say it isn’t OK,” Stephenson added. “It’s a community effort.”

Women who have endured domestic violence and sexual assault often feel alone. The resource center provides safety, support and resources for victims and their children. It has been in operation since 1974.

Domestic violence and sexual assault affect women of all walks of life. It often begins by the abuser gaining the victim’s trust and gradually accelerates into violence.

“It’s slow and calculated,” Stephenson said. “There’s violence and then the honeymoon of making up and saying they love them.”

Abusive relationships can be difficult for women to leave because they have formed an attachment to their abuser.

Financial vulnerability, lack of a car and phone, and the threat that their children can be taken away from them, all make it more difficult for women to leave.

There is also embarrassment in asking for help and a lack of knowledge on where to go to for support services.

“Each person comes in with a range of different problems, it’s never the same story,” Stephenson said. “Shelter is a big deal. Having a safe environment and not having to live in fear.”

Support programs for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault include transitional housing, adult counseling and career coaching.

The center also provides support services to human trafficking victims and a court mandated Family Violence Intervention Program for domestic violence offenders.

For more information on the fundraiser walk, call Friends of Women’s Resource Center at (760) 815-5776. The 24-hour Women’s Resource Center hotline is (760) 757-3500.