Madeleine Keegan O'Connell, chief executive officer of the YWCA, the leading provider of domestic abuse services in Sonoma County, says 1 in 4 women and 1 in every 14 men experience domestic violence over their lifetimes.
There is hope, she
said, that the public unfolding of Rice's case will encourage victims to speak up.
"I think it can't help but do that," said O'Connell
, who added that victims often call several times before they ask for or accept help.
"There is a feeling they have no power.
They are told by their abuser that they are diminished in some way, and they believe they can't speak out for themselves.
said while violence is one form of domestic abuse, it can take other forms, including sexual, financial and emotional.
Along with helping victims come forward, deal with and recover from abusive situations, both organizations have joined forces on programs seeking to educate teenagers about the issue.
One such program, Coaching Boys Into Men, guides athletic coaches in teaching their players the importance of being sensitive to others.
When an NFL player is severely punished for his
behavior, they said, it helps send a clear message, especially to young people who look up to famous athletes.
But, said O'Connell
, it all comes down to the most basic of ideals.
"To me, it is fundamentally about being a human being," she