A woman all too familiar with the cycle of domestic abuse found herself Wednesday at the League of United Latin American Citizens’ Know More – No More bilingual domestic violence workshop.
She asked for anonymity due to the nature of her situation, but said her father was abusive. For years, she did not talk about it, but feels now that both of her parents have passed away, it is okay to speak up.
“This is hard for me to talk about, and it always has been,” she said. “Now that both of my parents have passed away, it’s a lot easier for me to speak about this.”
The survivor teared up as she continued with her story. Years after her father’s abuse, she found out that her child was in an abusive romantic relationship.
“As I raised my children, I did not even spank them,” she said. “There were times where of course I was so angry, but I never spanked them. To find out that my own child was being abused by her boyfriend—that was something that I wouldn’t stand for. I called the police over and over on him because I wasn’t going to let that happen.”
The goal of the workshop was to educate and inform people about domestic violence and to prevent any form of abuse.
Approximately 15 Hays County residents gathered to learn about domestic violence, which is an issue pertinent to all ages and races.
Gloria Suarez Sasser, district director of LULAC, said there is an epidemic of dating abuse in America. LULAC’s goal is to educate people on how to get help.
“Domestic violence is an epidemic in this county,” Sasser said. “It can happen to you if you are rich, poor, man, woman or a child. Our goal is to get as much info out there and to educate people to know when it is okay to step in and call the police.”
Melissa Rodriguez and Viviana Garcia, representatives from the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, were the first presenters. Rodriguez and Garcia spoke to the audience about the dynamics of dating violence.
The workshop was hosted in the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, which offers nighttime English as a Second Language classes. A majority of the attendees were ESL students. Garcia helped translate for those individuals.
Rodriguez said asking why a victim of abuse remains in the relationship is not the right question to ask.
“It shouldn’t be, ‘Why people stay.’ We should be asking, ‘Why do people abuse?’” Rodriguez said. “We don’t know the complexity of why people stay.”
Victims will often go into shelters and counseling believing alcohol and drugs cause their partner to become abusive. Rodriguez said substances might be catalysts for the situation, but aren’t the cause because being abusive is an active choice.
“The truth is, (alcohol or drugs) may be what facilitates it, but that is not what causes it,” Rodriguez said.
Statistically, men who are abused do not report it. Rodriguez said this is because our society does not view men as victims, therefore they do not see themselves as victims of abuse.
“Men are the least likely to make a report about abuse because men are not seen as victims in today’s society,” Rodriguez said.
Brian Erskine and Laura Garcia, assistant criminal district attorneys for Hays County, spoke at the workshop about a victim’s legal right. They informed the audience there are a variety of ways someone can help a loved one who is being abused.
“We want to educate you on the legal actions you can take and the different kinds of protective orders there are,” Erskine said. “Other people outside of the relationship can help to get an emergency protective order, which helps victims who are too scared to ask for themselves.”
Rodriguez said she hopes the world deals with domestic violence differently one day.
“When are we going to live in a world where it isn’t okay for someone to harm anyone else, and victims don’t feel like they are the cause of it?” Rodriguez said.