Police say domestic violence is under-reported, especially among the immigrant community. Lideres Campesinas, a farm worker organization for women, is hoping to change that.
October is domestic violence awareness month. For the first time, the group partnered with Santa Barbara County's Domestic Violence Solutions to outreach to more survivors. Lideres Campesinas is also taking a stand against domestic violence by making symbolic aprons depicting messages of empowerment, or denouncing abuse.
"Many women are afraid to report the abuse because they're scared of their partner, or they're scared of asking for help because of their immigration status," said Andrea Cabrera of Lideres Campesinas.
Cabrera is a survivor of domestic violence, and says she remembers the day she decided to leave her abusive partner.
"He put a knife to my neck, making me bleed," she shared in Spanish. "He pulled my hair, pushed me, and beat me."
For a while, the Santa Maris farmworker says she was too afraid to report it. Cabrera knows many women are in the same boat.
“They want the abuse to stop," said Eloisa Patterson, an Outreach and Program Development Coordinator at Domestic Violence Solutions.
The agency offers help to survivors 7 days a week.
“Through our crisis line, we receive close to 5,000 crisis and information calls in one year," said Patterson.
After a 2018 KCOY 12 report highlighting Cabrera's efforts against this type of abuse in the immigrant community, Domestic Violence Solutions began partnering with Lideres Campesinas.
“They're able to reach places that we can't reach," said Patterson.
Patterson says they offer emergency shelter to victims in Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Santa Barbara.
“Maybe they need legal protections, maybe they need to do a police report, or maybe they make the decision not to. Maybe they need childcare, or they need counseling for their children," Patterson said.
"Don't be afraid because if I could overcome abuse, so can others," Cabrera said.
Lideres Campesinas is holding a vigil for survivors of domestic violence in Guadalupe on Thursday.
The farm worker organization held vigils in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara earlier this month.