One out of every three people will be a victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault in their lifetime, and this number may actually be higher since many cases of domestic violence go unreported.
So, one organization in Canyon County has what they call an outrageous goal: to stop domestic violence for good in our communities, and they are working night and day to get it done.
Laura Diaz knows first-hand the impact that domestic violence can have on families. Growing up, Diaz saw and experienced more than any child should ever have to. "My parents were in a relationship that was toxic, mostly because my father was the abuser, my mother being the victim," Diaz told 6 On Your Side.
Diaz recalls one moment in her childhood that stands out: “Particularly I remember, a situation where my dad had beaten my sister and I so badly that in the middle of summer we went to school in long sleeve shirts, and and thick jeans, pants, anything to cover those bruises.”
Diaz, now in her 20s, grew up with an aggressive, abusive, angry father, and she says much of that anger was directed at Diaz's mother. Over the years, the violence escalated, until just two years ago, Diaz's mother lost her life at the hands of her own abusive husband.
Diaz and her family were heartbroken. “We had just lost the rock of our family, the rock of our lives, the person we would turn to for anything," Diaz recalls.
That's when Diaz found Advocates Against Family Violence (AAFV). The Canyon County based non-profit has an incredibly ambitious goal: to completely eliminate domestic violence in Canyon County.
Kimberly Deugan AAFV's Executive Director. She's fully aware of the monumental task ahead of her, since the roots of domestic violence run deep. “You don't wake up one morning and just decide to be an offender, you don't wake up one morning and decide, I want to be a victim,” says Deugan. “It's generations deep and it's what they've been taught. "
To accomplish what Deugan calls their "bodacious" mission, AAFV operates nearly 20 different services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault from their campus in Caldwell. They offer a low income housing program, a daycare, classes for victims and their loved ones, and most importantly, a round-the-clock emergency shelter called Hope's Door. “In any emergency situation, 24-7, 365, if you've been victimized by domestic abuse and sexual assault and you have nowhere else to go, Hope's Door is your place," Deugan says.
While Deugan admits she may not see an end to domestic violence in her lifetime, she has no doubt that her gigantic goal is absolutely attainable. But both she and Diaz say it will take all of us to put an end to this dangerous cycle. “Domestic violence isn't a family matter,” Diaz told us. “It's a social issue. We definitely need to make social changes, social shifts." And Deugan says, “Our mission states that we work to eliminate violence. You only can truly eliminate something if you're preventing it from happening to begin with."
To help reach Deugan’s goal of stopping that cycle of violence before it starts, AAFV also created a teen outreach program that they take into local high schools. This last year alone, they reached 11,000 students with their healthy relationship curriculum.
If you, or someone you know, is in need of help, or if you'd like to support the work that AAFV is doing in Canyon County, you can find them online here. Their crisis line is available 24-7 by phone at (208) 459-4779.