Who: High Esteem Tea
What: A benefit for Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County
When: Sunday, Oct. 6
Where: Bacara Resort & Spa
October is Domestic Violence month, and supporters gathered at the Bacara Resort & Spa for the 2013 High Esteem Tea benefiting Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County to pay tribute to victims and raise money for this important cause.
Sunday's impactful guest speaker was Denise Brown, who has been an outspoken crusader against domestic violence since her sister, Nicole Brown Simpson, was brutally murdered in 1992 outside her Brentwood home in West Los Angeles.
Simpson's ex-husband, former football star O.J. Simpson, was charged with her murder and that of a friend, Ron Goldman. Although he was acquitted in a criminal trial, he was found guilty of their wrongful deaths in a civil trial, and ordered to pay their families $33.5 million. He was later convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping charges stemming from a Las Vegas memorabilia deal gone bad.
Since early 1995, Brown has spoken on the epidemic of domestic violence, traveling across the country to address university student bodies, men in prisons, women at risk, and various educational and legislative forums and activist groups. Her efforts helped lead to an increase in funding from $18 million to $32 million for the Violence Against Women Act.
Domestic Violence Solutions also honored another longtime outspoken advocate, Betty Stephens, who received the Pathways to Hope award. Stephens' influential friends include Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and her story is in the book, If Love Hurts.
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, also joined the afternoon with a call for support before a raffle drawing with prizes from Bacara, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara and more.
A bill authored by Sen. Jackson to provide employment protections to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 11, and the new law, SB 400, will take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
SB 400 makes it unlawful for an employer to terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee based on his or her known status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The law also entitles victims to reasonable safety accommodations at the workplace.
“I commend the governor for signing this bill, which protects victims from job loss and discrimination at a time when they most need support and a steady paycheck,” Jackson said. “Victims will no longer fear losing their livelihoods and being revictimized in the workplace because of the actions of their abusers. They will no longer fear retribution if they talk about these issues with an employer. And we will no longer send the mistaken message to employees that silence about these issues in the workplace is the same as safety.”
DVS is the only full-service nonprofit agency in Santa Barbara County focused solely on ending the cycle of domestic violence by providing confidential shelter to women and children, personal counseling and a 24-hour crisis hotline.
Board president Claudette Roehrig introduced the special guests and offered an impassioned plea for support in her closing remarks to the crowd at the Bacara.
“Let’s change the societal conversation from ‘Why do you stay’ to ‘How can I help?’ Let’s shift the shame and blame away from the victim and onto the perpetrators,” Roehrig told the crowd. “Consider this a call to action to help us eradicate domestic violence by speaking out and raising awareness, and together we can stop this epidemic. Please be part of the solution.”
Join DVS for an event Thursday, Oct. 17 at Centennial Park in Lompoc, and a vigil and walk from Santa Maria City Hall to Ethel Pope Auditorium on Oct. 21.
DVS graciously thanks the supporters of the 2013 High Esteem Tea:
» Earl Grey: Bacara Resort & Spa, the Cheeryble Foundation, Suellen and Barrett Hilzer, Judy Hopkinson, Kum Su Kim, Jim and Claudette Roehrig, Judy Stapelmann and Betty J. Stephens
» English Breakfast: Judy and Rob Egenolf, the Hutton Parker Foundation, Steve and Cindy Lyons, Richard and Maryann Schall, and M. Barry Semler
» Oolong Breakfast: Margo and Jeffrey Barbakow, Community West Bank, First American Title – Karen Chackel, Nancy Gifford, the Giles Family Foundation, Peter and Gerd Jordano, Realtor Coldwell Banker – Sofie Langhorne, Jim Melillo, and Nancy Even and Joel Ohlgren
— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.