SF programs target domestic violence

San Francisco city and community leaders began Domestic Violence Awareness Month today by announcing two new programs to help end the violence in The City.

The Domestic Violence Liaison Program will try to help city employees affected by domestic violence through 50 liaison volunteers, city officials said.

The volunteers will connect survivors with helpful services and assist them with safety planning, according to city officials.

Officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that U.S. employers lose $1.8 billion a year in production because of domestic violence.

The city employs about 30,000 people and estimates that 1,300 employees each year are survivors of domestic violence, human resources director Micki Callahan said.

The other new program announced today was the Bystander Public Outreach Campaign, aimed at engaging family, friends and acquaintances of possible victims in the solution.

The campaign will raise awareness through ads on San Francisco Municipal Railway buses, light rail vehicles, bus shelters and online, city officials said.

The ads will run in English, Spanish and Chinese, according to city officials.

Mayor Ed Lee said to a group of about 100 people inside City Hall:

“We need to go deeper and wider with our message.”

Lee announced The City will invest another $1 million in addition to the $4.6 million budgeted to help survivors and prevent domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking:

“We will do more if there are more ideas out there.”

He asked community leaders to take the message “directly to our youth.”

Ads are going on buses in areas of the city where police get the most 911 calls, Lee said. According to 2014 data from the Family Violence Council, 29 percent of calls come from the city’s southeastern neighborhoods.

City officials will call attention to Domestic Violence Awareness Month tonight by lighting the dome of City Hall in purple.

According to Emily Murase, executive director of the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, purple is a regal color that reflects the importance of every person:

“This issue affects everyone.”

Joining other leaders Thursday were the co-founders of a domestic violence education program at Phillip and Sala Burton High School.

Christian Oregel and Faauuga Moliga-Puletasi started the Puma Prevent program in 2012 because of what they said was a spike in news coverage of domestic violence among student-athletes.

The two are starting another Puma Prevent chapter this year at San Jose State University, where Oregel is a freshman.

Beverly Upton, executive director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, said:

“We are on a path and it is headed in the right direction. … But we are not home yet.”

Upton said the extra $1 million makes a big difference and the work across the city to prevent domestic violence and help survivors is improving and “we still have more work to do.”