SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Domestic violence has been a hot-button topic in San Francisco with the recent case involving San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez.

Beverly Upton, Executive Director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, said that although things are changing, much of the same long-held beliefs still exist.

KCBS Interviews Beverly Upton w/ the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium:

“We’ve seen a broadening of the term from domestic violence to domestic abuse over the years. That really encompasses some of the more hidden issues like verbal abuse, financial abuse and sexual assault,” said Upton. “But the law is still more focused on domestic violence.”

Upton said that domestic abuse and domestic violence are almost always connected where one leads to the other and it remains a major problem in San Francisco.

“San Francisco in the community takes about 25,000 calls a year to all the crisis lines. About 7,000 come to law enforcement’s attention,” said Upton. “It’s a very big problem and only a small portion of those go all the way through the court system. We hope that intervention, sometimes the police just coming to the house is enough to put the victim’s mind at rest.”

She said that while punishment is a deterrent, punishment and intervention works even better in trying to solve domestic violence and abuse issues.

In terms of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, Upton said they provide services to try to make things easier for victims of domestic violence and abuse.

“If you look at the number of crisis line calls and the fact that most of our shelter beds are full most of the time, we think our programs are very successful,” she said. “But here is a way I think we can really measure (our success). San Francisco used to have between 10 and 12 domestic violence-related homicides per year. And now we are down to one or two.”

Upton does admit that the one or two cases are usually tragic ones, but she thinks they are headed in the right direction.

You can hear KCBS In Depth, a weekly half-hour news interview, Saturdays at 5:30a.m. and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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