Domestic violence is the kind of issue that is often thought to afflict women in less economically well-off communities. But this often-hidden crime reveals itself in black and white in the Palo Alto police log.
In 2014, police received 96 calls reporting domestic violence; 34 resulted in arrests, Human Relations Commissioner Shelly Gordon Gray said at the commission meeting on Oct. 8.
"That's like one every other week. I would call that significant," Commissioner Daryl Savage said.
Palo Alto police say that domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous for responding officers. When they arrive, the perpetrator might have a gun or other weapon.
The number of cases are likely much higher, mental health professionals say. The majority of domestic violence victims don't report the crimes -- particularly in a community such as Palo Alto, where people of high stature are too embarrassed to come forward, Gray said.
"We'd really like to help people," she said.
On Oct. 28, the commission will host a community forum entitled "Domestic Violence: It Couldn't Happen Here -- Could It?" The free event will take place from 7-9 p.m. at Mitchell Park Community Center, El Palo Alto Room, 3700 Middlefield Road.
It will feature a seven-member panel of advocacy, law enforcement, legal and psychology experts. An abuse survivor will tell her story, and there will be information and resources for victims on escaping an abusive relationship and for others on how to safely help someone who is being abused. Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez will be the keynote speaker.
The commissioners said they hope the event will spur victims of domestic violence to reach out for help. Under consideration for the event is an anonymous poll that would enable the city to identify the demographics of Palo Alto's victims of domestic abuse.
"Domestic violence is a very sensitive topic. This is all about providing a safe space," Commission Chairwoman Jill O'Nan said.
For more information or to RSVP for the vent, persons should contact Mary Constantino at 650-463-4906 or at Mary.Constantino@cityofpaloalto.org.