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El Paisano

A Room of Sanctuary in Rio’s Violence Intervention Program

Speakers share their stories of their unhealthy relationships at Rio's Violence Intervention Program.

Purple+Signs+and+Hearts+were+laid+out+to+guide+students+to+the+Domestic+Violence+Awareness+Workshop.+%28Photo+by+Erika+Suarez%29
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A Room of Sanctuary in Rio’s Violence Intervention Program

Purple Signs and Hearts were laid out to guide students to the Domestic Violence Awareness Workshop. (Photo by Erika Suarez)

Purple Signs and Hearts were laid out to guide students to the Domestic Violence Awareness Workshop. (Photo by Erika Suarez)

Purple Signs and Hearts were laid out to guide students to the Domestic Violence Awareness Workshop. (Photo by Erika Suarez)

Purple Signs and Hearts were laid out to guide students to the Domestic Violence Awareness Workshop. (Photo by Erika Suarez)

Domestic abuse advocate, Oralia Alcorta spread awareness on domestic violence in relationships at the Tech Quad in Room 143 on November 7.

 

Guided by purple hearts on the floor that led to the VIP (Violence Intervention Program), where sensitive topics were discussed. The event was hosted by Manuela Plascencia and Rosario Gonzalez, Program Assistant at Rio Hondo College.

 

With an audience of five, Rosario introduces Alcorta and describes her as a “role model” and an asset to survivors of domestic violence.

 

Oralia Alcorta is a mother of six kids and student at Whittier College working on her bachelors in Sociology. She missed one of her classes to share her story and encounter with domestic abuse.

 

“the physical goes away; the pain goes away. Yeah, the scars go away but the verbal, the mental, the emotional, all that plays a big part in somebody. Like my self-esteem, who I was and how I felt about myself, he [her abuser] took all that. I was not the same person at all.”

 

When Alcorta returned to continue her education at Rio Hondo, she was aided by EOPS & Care where she was led to a scholarship event. She shared and condensed her life in 900 words and won first place, receiving a scholarship of $2,500.

 

At that moment, she said she broke the chains of her shame and past. “If someone can believe in me, then I can believe in myself,” she says. Once, walked with her head low, she now aims high. She believes her story is a motive and anyone can break free of their adversity.

 

Booming with eagerness, she says, “You take control of your life, so when I started taking control of my life, I realized I was not racing with anybody.”

 

“I stopped giving myself a deadline.” Before, she had a set time of when she would complete her education, but later realized she was going to meet her destination on her own pace.

 

Teary eyes were noticed in the room. Her courage and voice certainly uplifted many.  

 

Alcorta’s next move is to run a nonprofit organization that provides a one-stop resource center for women with children who are going through hardships and abuse.

 

Rosario Gonzalez, single parent of two children shares her story as well. Alcorta was the person she was able to turn when she faced difficulties.

 

“Oralia had just all the answers that I needed and all the connections… she helped me without question and literally everything she had… she is the reason why I’m here.” said Gonzalez.

 

Gonzalez navigates the Violence Intervention Program on campus, where she wants to open doors to students and lend a hand for them to reach onto. “Not a lot of people want to come into a domestic violence workshop or want to talk about it,” said Gonzalez. But the outcome is walking away with knowledge of the matter.

 

After a small break, the students are welcomed by Jose Hatem, Outreach Specialist for Project Sister Family Services. He emphasizes the red flags to search for in every type of relationship on a powerpoint. “Personally, I hate doing presentations, it’s not my thing. I would rather have a conversation,” says Hatem.

 

He touched on delicate issues such as emotional and sexual abuse, yet lightening the mood with the phrases, “shook” and “all fly’d up.”

 

Jackie Hernandez, EOPS intern at Rio Hondo says she gained plenty from coming to the workshop. In regard to the women who spoke, “their experiences don’t identify them…despite all the challenges they went through, they blossomed,” says Hernandez.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 13 print edition.

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