SAN DIEGO – In honor of victims of domestic violence and to mark the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, several nonprofits along with County of San Diego leaders and those working on the front lines of the painful and often hidden violent crime gathered Tuesday to shine a spotlight on the issue.

“Did you know that if a victim is strangled just one time, they are seven times more likely to be killed at the hands of that same abuser?” said Tracy Prior, chief deputy of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. “Our county recognized this, and six years ago we implemented the countywide strangulation protocol.”

In those 6 years, strangulation as a form of homicide has decreased by 29%. Still, one in four women will be the victim of domestic violence in their lifetime.

Tuesday’s ceremony held a candlelight vigil honoring those killed at the hands of a domestic partner, remembering 14 lives lost here in San Diego County in 2022. A bell was rung for each victim as one by one their names were read aloud.

“We all know one homicide is too many, and that’s the purpose of today,” said Tamika Nelson, chief probation officer with the San Diego County Probation Department.  

She, too, is a survivor. Sharing a story many survivors can relate to, how a seemingly normal Sunday can erupt into violence, and end with a 911 call made by children and witnessing their mother beaten and their father taken away in handcuffs: “I was that little girl.”   

For Ivette, who is now a prosecutor advocating for children, this moment is about empower victims to take the first step and leave a violent situation and thank those who do the tough work. 

“Walking into the most dangerous situations and putting your life at risk,” Ivette said. “For opening the files, looking at the photographs, stepping into crime scenes, that everybody else would rather not look, and would rather forget.”