Mayor Kevin Stafford presents Director of Lassen Family Services Melissa Downing with a proclamation on behalf of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Photo by Jake Hibbitts

City recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Lassen Family Service’s theme this year is to “shine a light on domestic violence.”

LFS director Melissa Downing was presented with a proclamation from the Susanville mayor Kevin Stafford (on behalf of the City Council) in solidarity, acknowledgment and awareness of domestic violence at the Oct. 3 meeting.

LFS is sharing purple battery powered lights for residents and businesses to put in their windowsills throughout the month. LFS is also asking residents to wear purple every Friday.

Downing asked the council and encouraged the community to share their picture on Facebook and tag Lassen Family Services.

In 2017, LFS served 293 women and men victims of domestic violence.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abuse behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.

LFS provides many services and options for victims of domestic violence not only an emergency shelter, but also details of signs of abuse, types of abuse and preparation, or a safety plan, to help escape your abuser.


Emergency Shelter

LFS’s Emergency Shelter serves as a lifeline and safe haven for individuals and families who are fleeing from domestic violence.

LFS’s confidential safe house offers safety, comprehensive advocacy and support services to up to 18 individuals and families. The program emphasizes independent living skills and individual counseling, support groups and vocational/educational referrals to reverse the isolation caused by domestic violence.

It utilizes family-based interventions, works with women, men and their children together to strengthen families in crisis and break the intergenerational cycle of violence.

Every family living at the emergency shelter is provided with basic necessities such as food, clothing, household supplies and toiletries. In addition to advocacy, support and basic needs, clients are offered regular self-care and life-skills programming.

If you need emergency shelter, call 257-4599 or drop in to their office at 1306 Riverside Drive, Susanville, California.


Types of abuse

Physical abuse: Grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, hair pulling, biting, etc.; denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.

Sexual abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact without consent, e.g., marital rape, forcing sex after physical beating, attacks on sexual parts of the body or treating another in a sexually demeaning manner; forcing the victim to perform sexual acts on another person, on the Internet, or pose for sexually explicit photographs against her will.

Economic abuse: Making or attempting to make a person financially dependent, e.g., maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding access to money, forbidding attendance at school or employment.

Emotional abuse: Undermining a person’s sense of self-worth, e.g., constant criticism, belittling one’s abilities, name calling, damaging a partner’s relationship with the children. An abuser may also use his or your HIV-positive status or sexual orientation as a means to control you. For example, an abuser may threaten to reveal your HIV status or your sexual identity. For more information, go to HIV/AIDS-related abuse or Same-Sex Abuse.

Psychological abuse: Causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner or children, destruction of pets and property, mind games or forcing isolation from friends, family, school and/or work.

Sexual coercion and reproductive control: When a partner sabotages your birth control efforts by demanding unprotected sex, lying about “pulling out,” hiding or destroying birth control (i.e., flushing pills down the toilet or poking a hole in a condom), preventing you from getting an abortion or forcing you to get an abortion.


Signs of abuse

Some signs of an abusive relationship include:

  • Exerting strict control – whether financial, spiritual, social and/or appearance.
  • Needing constant contact – including excessive texts, emails and calls.
  • Insulting a partner in front of other people.
  • Extreme jealousy.
  • Isolation from family and friends.
  • Frequent canceling of plans at the last minute.
  • Unexplained injuries or explanations that don’t quite add up.


Safety plan

Your safety is the most important thing. Listed below are tips to help keep you safe. The information listed below can help you to make a safety plan that works best for you. It is important to get help with your safety plan. Lassen Family Services may be able to provide you with a cell phone that is programmed to only call 911. These phones are for when you need to call the police and cannot get to any other phone.

If you are in an abusive relationship, think about:

  • Having important phone numbers nearby for you and your children. Numbers to have are the police, hotlines, friends and the local shelter.
  • Friends or neighbors you could tell about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear angry or violent noises. If you have children, teach them how to dial 911. Make up a code word that you can use when you need help.
  • How to get out of your home safely; practice ways to get out.
  • Safer places in your home where there are exits and no weapons. If you feel abuse is going to happen try to get your abuser to one of these safer places.
  • Any weapons in the house. Think about ways that you could get them out of the house.
  • Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go. Think of how you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house — taking out the trash, walking the pet or going to the store. Put together a bag of things you use every day (see the checklist below). Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
  • Going over your safety plan often.


If you consider leaving your abuser, think about:

  • Four places you could go if you leave your home.
  • People who might help you if you left. Think about people who will keep a bag for you. Think about people who might lend you money. Make plans for your pets.
  • Keeping change for phone calls or getting a cell phone.
  • Opening a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
  • How you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house — taking out the trash, walking the family pet, or going to the store. Practice how you would leave.
  • How you could take your children with you safely. There are times when taking your children with you may put all of your lives in danger. You need to protect yourself to be able to protect your children.
  • Putting together a bag of things you use every day. Hide it where it is easy for you to get.


Items to take, if possible:

  • Children (if it is safe)
  • Money
  • Keys to car, house, work
  • Extra clothes
  • Medications
  • Important papers for you and your children
  • Birth certificates
  • Social security cards
  • School and medical records
  • Bankbooks, credit cards
  • Driver’s license
  • Car registration
  • Welfare identification
  • Passports, green cards, work permits
  • Lease/rental agreement
  • Mortgage payment book, unpaid bills
  • Insurance papers
  • PPO, divorce papers, custody orders
  • Address book
  • Pictures, jewelry, things that mean a lot to you
  • Items for your children (toys, blankets, etc.)


If you have left your abuser, remember to consider the following:

  1. Your safety — you still need to.
  2. Getting a cell phone. Lassen Family Services may be able to provide you with a cell phone that is programmed to only call 911.
  3. Getting a PPO from the court. Keep a copy with you all the time. Give a copy to the police, people who take care of your children, their schools and your boss.
  4. Changing the locks. Consider putting in stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and outside lights.
  5. Telling friends and neighbors that your abuser no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your abuser near your home or children.
  6. Telling people who take care of your children the names of people who are allowed to pick them up. If you have a PPO protecting your children, give their teachers and babysitters a copy of it.
  7. Telling someone at work about what has happened. Ask that person to screen your calls. If you have a PPO that includes where you work, consider giving your boss a copy of it and a picture of the abuser. Think about and practice a safety plan for your workplace. This should include going to and from work.
  1. Not using the same stores or businesses you did when you were with your abuser.
  2. Someone who you can call if you feel down. Call that person if you are thinking about going to a support group or workshop.
  3. Safe way to speak with your abuser if you must.
  4. Going over your safety plan often.

LFS gives a warning to take extreme caution when considering leaving an abuser. Abusers attempt to control a victim’s life, when an abuser senses a loss of control it may cause the abuse to get worse.