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Children carry trauma of domestic violence, director says

Data released by Amberly’s Place shows another sharp jump in domestic violence numbers.

The family advocacy center assisted 274 primary and secondary victims in October, with 184 being victims of domestic abuse.

Amberly’s Place serves primary and secondary victims in Yuma County and parts of Imperial County. Secondary victims are those who witness and/or are directly impacted by the abuse of the primary victim.


“It is common to think about the primary victims in these cases, but many don’t often consider the secondary victims of domestic violence,” Executive Director Tori Bourguignon said. “The secondary victims are often children who bear witness to the violence happening in homes and carry with them the trauma that accompanies this violence.”

The October report indicates that 106 were primary victims of domestic violence, a 58% jump over the previous month and 33% increase over the previous year to date. The agency helped 78 secondary victims, a jump of 56% over the previous month and 3% over the previous year to date.

Bourguignon noted that domestic violence is often an indicator of child maltreatment. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, research indicates that child maltreatment occurs in 30% to 60% of families where spousal abuse takes place.

“Children in violent homes may witness parental violence, be victims of physical abuse or be neglected by parents who are focused on their partners or unresponsive to their children due to their own fears,” Bourguignon said. “Even if children are not maltreated, they may experience harmful emotional consequences from the violence they witness.”

Amberly’s Place, along with many other service providers in the community, are “keenly aware of the toll that domestic violence takes on the entire family,” she added.

The agency strives to provide trauma-informed services designed to address the lasting effects of family violence and work toward a healthier community “one family at a time.”

“We are grateful for all of our multidisciplinary team members and partner agencies who join us in this vital work,” Bourguignon said.

She pointed out that the holiday season is fast approaching and the downturn in the economy has left many families struggling. Each year, with the help of the community, Amberly’s Place provides Christmas gifts for victims’ families that would otherwise go without. If you are interested in adopting a family for Christmas, contact the office at the number below.

To talk to a crisis advocate, call the 24-hour helpline: 928-373-0849. For more information on spotting the signs of abuse, go to

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