On the morning of April 16th Maria returns to her apartment, after taking the kids to school, and invites her neighbor to go out to the street to talk. Suddenly, they see a man trying to steal a woman’s bags; Maria’s neighbor quickly pulls out her phone to report the incident to the police. Just as they are crossing the street to approach the woman, they realize that a patrol car is pulling up to the scene. By this time, they are half a block from their building and decide to continue walking.
But Maria doesn’t notice that her husband is leaning against a pole watching her and waiting. Pedro walks up to her and when they are face-to-face he begins to insult her, ignoring that she has company. She says nothing, just lowers her head and walks. Meanwhile, her husband goes on and on asking her, "Where were you and with whom?" Pedro continues, "You know what time I get home - you should already be there."
Every 18 seconds a woman is abused and more than 5,200 women die each year from violence around the world
Here are some important figures related to cases like these: 70 percent of women experience violence in their lifetime. Meaning, every 18 seconds a woman is abused and more than 5,200 women die each year from violence around the world. In Latin America, 1 in 3 women is verbally and emotionally abused; in addition, 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted and 45 percent are threatened by their partners.
Maria says, "That’s why I don’t like having friends, because he gets angry and I don’t want him to be angry with me because he might leave me." According to the Peace Over Violence’s website, a service agency for domestic violence survivors, one of the warning signs of an abusive relationship is being afraid of the reactions and behavior of an aggressive partner.
When there is psychological abuse, a person can have noticeable changes in her or his behavior: changes in personality and possibly becoming passive, and in fact, the intention is to isolate the partner physically and emotionally, driving her or him away from family and friends.
Pedro works the graveyard shift as a security guard and Maria’s routine consists of performing household chores and taking care of their children. Maria and Pedro live in Los Angeles and have two children under the age of 12. According to the Kids Matter Inc. website, recent research indicates that exposure to domestic violence can have long-term effects in children even if it’s not directed towards them. Even infants may experience excessive irritability, problems sleeping and anxiety, etc.
Maria is asked, "If you had the chance to work, would you?” Maria replies without hesitation, “If I found a good and stable job, I would probably leave him." According to domestic violence survivor advocates, it takes on average 7 tries before ending an abusive relationship.
The Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles offers a support group for women who survived domestic violence where a therapist provides support and free counseling regardless of nationality or country of origin. This support is provided jointly with Casa de la Familia to try to address this problem that affects communities across Los Angeles.
When: Every Tuesday.
Where: Mexican Consulate
Hours: 5:00 P.M. - 7:00 P.M.
Phone: (213) 351-68-00 ext. 2402.
By Luz Hernandez