By Johanna Calderon and Jacquelyn Gonzalez
The march of Mujeres de Paz down Avenida Cesar Chavez Thursday night included survivors speaking out on domestic violence and honored victims with a candlelight vigil.
Susana Espinosa spoke about her decision to flee from Mexico to California. Her ex-husband was a powerful man who wouldn’t be charged if she reported he had abused her.
She said that the day she left was the day she saw herself in the mirror after being beaten and knew she had to leave.
Espinosa will always carry those scars, but by sharing her testimony, she hopes to help other victims.
Maria Ortega has experienced domestic violence within her own family.
“When we heard the car in the driveway, (We) would know my dad was drunk and going to hit us,” Ortega said.
Armando Lawrence works with men and youth. His work includes male domestic violence victims. He noted a few situations that some of his clients have been in.
“Sometimes when the police came out, they would give men attittude like ‘Really? You called me out here for this?” Lawrence said.
“In one of my client’s cases, the police officer actually showed the husband how to beat his wife without leaving any marks. He said that he (the police officer) did the same thing to his own wife.”
Lawrence believes the reason many people don’t report domestic violence or report it sooner is because nobody wants to get involved.
“To me, when I was a kid, I had seen a big change in society where on the one hand people are interested in individual rights and who they are as a person. On the other hand, (people) have a lack of mutual respect for society,” Lawrence said.
Not all domestic violence victims are women. However fewer men report their experiences than women.
“In a nutshell, when we’re taught as little boys not to cry, it’s sending us a thousand different messages not to be emotional. In order to survive , we think that we can’t pay attention to these things,” Lawrence said.
There was a moment of silence for victims who passed away.
Andrea Owen, an ELAC Kinesiology instructor and chair of the S.A.A.V.E. team helped organize the event along with the East Los Angeles Women’s Center.
The event started off with a small group.
“Their inspiration was to help people who have been victims of domestic violence. Then people kept coming and coming,” Owen said.
Marilyn Ladd, one of the founders of the march, spoke at the event.
The event has received largely positive feedback over the years.
Owen says that students who need help with anything can find resources at the Women and Men’s Center in building F5.
The march began at Mednik Avenue and ended in fron of the S2 Recital Hall.
The Mujeres de Paz March has run annually for the last 19 years.