By Evelyn Sanchez
Hundreds of students, domestic violence victims and member of the community walked down Avenida Cesar Chavez last Thursday while chanting on behalf of those who were victims of Domestic violence.
With October being National Domestic Violence Awareness month, the East Los Angeles Women’s Center presented its Mujeres de Paz 16th annual vigil. This was the third year the program collaborated with East Los Angeles College.
Every nine seconds in the United states a woman is either assaulted or beaten.
Domestic violence or interpersonal violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship by one partner, with the intent of gaining or maintaining power and control over another person as stated by ELAWC.
The ELAWC has designated an area for victims of domestic violence to receive counseling, HIV services and parenting services.
“It has been 16 years and the program started very small,” ELAWC Sexual Assault Program Director Sonia Rivera said, “But now, if you look around there are families, kids and a lot of male participants.”
“Actually this is the first year we see the ELAC football team and that brings a lot of hope,” Rivera said.
ELAC Football player Jose Giyen said “I don’t support domestic violence. I support this event because I don’t agree with domestic violence and I do not think women should go through being beat or hurt.”
Once a year ELAWC collaborates with ELAC students to produce the ceremony.
The evening began with a march with people holding signs which read “Violence is not the way” and people shouting “no more violence.”
The walk ended at ELAC’s courtyard where the majority of the event was held.
“The marching is powerful, but I think the most powerful part is at ELAC when they (Victims) give the testimonies,” ELAWC’s Development Associate Stephanie Mesones said.
The ceremony began with a powerful introduction speech given by ELAWC Executive Director Barbara Kappos emphasizing that violence within a household is never okay.
There was also an emphasis on the fact that help is always available. Whether it is through the women’s shelter or through local schools within their women’s department.
ELAC’S “Let’s Dance Company” performed and choreographed routine with Aztec performers dancing a prayer ritual followed by a flower ceremony.
The prayer ritual consisted of forming a large circle around the quad. Everyone at the ceremony then followed the dance step-by-step as instructed by the Aztec dancers.
ELAWC’s participation with ELAC wouldn’t be possible without the help from former ELAC Health science Instructor Marilyn Ladd.
On the board of directors for the women’s center for 10 years, Ladd was able to transition the ELAWC annual event to cooperate with ELAC. Because of the transition, this is the third year that ELAC has participated in the walk and candlelight vigil.