Flerida Alarcon is the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Chief of Bureau of Victim Services. Alarcon—who started her career with the District Attorney’s Office 19 years ago—has overseen the implementation of several innovative programs to assist our county’s victims such as a comfort dog program, automated victim notification system and the expansion of our elementary school Gang Resistance Intervention Program (GRIP).
Q: What services does the DA’s Office provide for victims of domestic violence?
Alarcon: The following is a list of services that we provide to victims of domestic violence. In many instances, if there is another need we are unable to provide, we make every effort to try and connect victims with other local resources.
Emergency Temporary Lodging (hotels)
Emergency Essentials (food, clothing)
Referrals to Domestic Violence agencies for emergency shelter (i.e. Option House, House of Ruth)
Referrals to other resources
California Victim Compensation Board (CVCB) application assistance
Restraining order assistance
Accompaniment to court and criminal justice system orientation and updates
Courtroom dogs available for child victims/witnesses
Q: How can a victim protect his or herself if their spouse or partner has become violent?
Alarcon: The first thing to do is Call 911 and report the incident to the police. Afterwards, they will want to start taking the necessary steps to leave the home and stay with a family or friend or shelter. The next step would be to obtain a restraining order against the abuser. There are many resources available for victims when it comes to getting help. There is a way out, the cycle of domestic violence can be broken. I would encourage anybody who is trying to get help to contact the District Attorney’s Bureau of Victim Services for assistance.
Q: Can a victim drop the charges against their abuser?
Alarcon: No, once the District Attorney’s office has filed the charges, our office is the only one who can drop the charges. The victim is essentially a witness in the case.
Q: Where can a victim get counseling for themselves or their children?
Alarcon: We have lists of referrals for counseling for victims. Once again, I would encourage anybody in need to contact our office for assistance. Additionally, the website http://www.counselingcalifornia.com can assist with finding local counselors with varied specialties.
Q: Domestic abusers often use immigration status as a method to trap their undocumented partner in an abusive relationship. Should undocumented victims in San Bernardino County fear coming forward to report domestic violence?
Alarcon: No, they should not. Undocumented victims do not have to disclose their immigration status when reporting to the police or seeking assistance from the District Attorney’s Office. Victims can apply for special immigration VISAs that can help with the immigration status of Domestic Violence victims.
Q: The theme of our campaign is called “Breaking the Cycle” of domestic violence. Based on your experience what is our office doing to break the cycle?
Alarcon: Our office is making every effort to reach out to domestic violence victims to inform them of the many services available that can help them escape from the abuser. We collaborate with the many domestic violence agencies in our county to ensure that we are providing comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence, which includes emergency relocation, temporary lodging, transitional housing, counseling and support groups.
Q. What future steps is the District Attorney’s Office taking to “break the cycle?”
Alarcon: The office is seeking grants that are able to fund additional victim advocates which in turn will allow for greater outreach and support to victims. We understand the importance of working closely with the many agencies in our county and we will continue to maintain those relationships in order to provide victims the most comprehensive wrap around services.