A domestic violence vigil was being held in Downtown San Luis Obispo Thursday night to honor the lives of Central Coast residents lost to abuse.
The annual vigil in Mission Plaza is a time for residents to come together and reflect on the issue of domestic violence. October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month.
Stand Strong, a San Luis Obispo organization that helps connect domestic violence victims with resources, served about 800 clients last year.
Those 800 clients received 5,000 counseling sessions and 2,800 nights at the Stand Strong safe house.
According to Stand Strong executive director Kirsten Rambo, the crisis hot line took in more than 885 calls.
Rambo said the numbers are an indication of the positive work her organization is able to do. One of the women helped by Stand Strong wrote the organization a letter, which Rambo holds dear.
"She said 'thank you for all you do, all you've helped us with, for allowing us to dream again and most importantly, for giving us one more day,'" Rambo read from the letter.
Though Rambo is proud of the work being done at Stand Strong and its community partner, RISE, she knows the work to help domestic violence survivors is never over.
Even in America's so called 'Happiest City', the problem of domestic violence is still very real.
"We know this is very under-reported and there are lots of reasons why some people don't seek help," Rambo said.
One of the many reasons victims choose not to leave is a lack of alternative shelter, but that specific issue is now being addressed by the California state legislature.
"AB 415 authorizes the California victims fund to compensate a victim of domestic violence for the cost of temporary housing for a pet or any pet deposit that may be required for relocation," assemblyman Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego) said during a September floor vote on the bill.
Other complicated reasons for staying in domestic violence situations remain and some victims never make it out.
"That's when a lot of homicides occur is when the victim is leaving," Rambo said.
Thursday's vigil honored those victims.
"It's a way for the community to come together, reflect on those losses and pledge to do better," Rambo said.
In addition to the ceremony being held in San Luis Obispo, a candlelight vigil is planned for Santa Barbara October 24.
Anyone experiencing domestic violence should contact 805-781-6400 for help.