October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and as an agency in the San Fernando Valley, we recognize the impact we have in our communities and are aware of the effects this may have on the victim. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), “domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.”
Clients come to us seeking assistance to process their trauma as domestic violence victims than before they can leave their abusive partners or after they have successfully ended the relationship. However, they may still have to face the repercussions of ending such relationships. This was the case of one of our current clients who was self-referred to us last July 2018.
Evelyn, a Mexican descent female, is Spanish monolingual and mother of 6 children ranging from 20 to 7 years old. She was married to her children’s father for about 20 years before ending the relationship in 2017. Evelyn reported that she was experiencing insomnia, difficulty concentrating, low self-esteem, helplessness, poor appetite, low energy, isolation, and feelings of anxiety. Evelynwas always worried about her financial issues and interactions with her ex-husband. Evelyn reported that she felt sad at night and became tearful when discussing past and current issues. Evelyn shared having difficulties making decisions on her own and often second-guessing her abilities as a mother, as a partner, and as a friend. Evelyn voiced the stress from the separation, legal issues of the impending divorce, being a single parent, and learning new skills had caused her symptoms to increase.
She began to receive individual therapy with Erika Ibarra, LMFT, once it was determined that she met the diagnostic criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Through the process of therapy, Evelyn has shared that she has not had an easy life. Evelyn described that she endured a lot of difficulty as a child as she suffered physical and emotional child abuse from her mother and grew up without a father. As she began to have intimate relationships, Evelyn shared experiencing intimate violence that included verbal, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse from her partners, one that resulted in losing a healthy 7-month pregnancy.
She continues to receive weekly individual session with Miguel Hernandez, Associate Marriage and Family therapist along with Case Management with Jennifer Vallecillo. Evelyncan identify her strengths without hesitation. She ascertains herself as a good mom, wants to be a good example to her children, and is motivated to learn new things. Evelyn states that the divorce process has been complicated as the family was displaced from their home, and she is unable to work. Evelyn is finding the strength to do everyday activities without feeling overwhelmed, sad or anxious. Evelyn has shared she is now able to complete daily activities for her children, such as taking them to school, learning how to drive, and advocating for her needs in the court system.
Additionally, she has enrolled herself in the English classes at Mission Community College. She continues to participate in treatment with mental health clinician Miguel Hernandez who continues to assist her in healing the inner child she carries to become a domestic violence survivor. She is now hopeful that she will break the cycle of domestic violence for her children.