In the face of the escalating domestic violence crisis, San Mateo County has taken a concrete step towards change by forming a Domestic Violence Task Force, following the homicides of five women this year at the hands of their abusers. According to the County of San Mateo, this move brings together county officials, survivors, advocates, and representatives from various areas, such as law enforcement, public health, education, the judiciary, and others, with an urgent mission: saving lives by identifying gaps in services and urgently strengthening the response and support systems in place.
Among the unsettling facts, apart from the tragic mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, all five homicides in San Mateo County this year have been the result of domestic violence, as law enforcement officials have stated. The victims include Grace Marie Kelly, Yesenia Lopez Hernandez, Claribel Estrella, Maria Romero-Molina, and Frances Lucero. In response to these tragedies, Supervisor Noelia Corzo said, "These victims deserved safety. Their children deserve their mothers and freedom from violence. Intimate partner violence is a crisis that demands our experts come together, identify the gaps, and take action now. We have the resources to prevent domestic violence and save lives."
The idea of forming the task force was proposed during a special meeting of the San Mateo County Domestic Violence Council held on September 18th. This task force consists of a subgroup of Domestic Violence Council members and will eventually report back to the council and the larger community with an action plan. The community is heartened to see the swift response and collaboration among various stakeholders to respond to these heart-wrenching tragedies according to Lynn Schuette, of Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA), San Mateo County's only agency dedicated to helping those affected by intimate partner abuse.
With domestic violence affecting an estimated 10,000 people in San Mateo County every year, it is certainly a matter that cannot be ignored as reported on the County of San Mateo's website. Learning about residents' experiences with domestic violence will help inform strategies to address intimate partner abuse. The public is invited to share their stories during public comment at the next Domestic Violence Council meeting, scheduled for Thursday, October 12 at 3 p.m. Information regarding in-person and virtual participation can be found on the San Mateo County Government website, once the agenda is posted.