Domestic Violence Victims and Survivors Honored

Viane Ward
Viane Ward received the Mariposa Award in addition to a $500 check from the Imperial County Board of Supervisors during the Remember My Name 2nd Annual Dinner.

IMPERIAL – According to statistics, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. In a continued effort of creating awareness and providing support for those affected by domestic violence, WomanHaven Center for Family Solutions held their 2nd Annual Remember My Name annual meeting and Mariposa Award Tuesday evening at Cheval Farm.

Domestic violence victim Viane Ward was recipient of the first Mariposa Award. Viane is a survivor, after being in an abusive relationship for numerous years.

“I was in an abusive relationship for over six years and finally realized things were not going to change for me and my two kids. They were only getting worse, so I decided to leave my husband,” said Ward. “I searched for help in Yuma and found no help until I found WomanHaven in Winterhaven. There I worked at a dentist’s office trying to make ends meet until one day I decided to go back to college and finish my Master’s Degree.”

She returned to college, became a volunteer at WomanHaven and went on to become a teacher at the Calipatria State Prison where she taught writing, reading and arithmetic for fourteen years before retiring.

“The skills I learned at WomanHaven came in very handy at the prison,” said Ward.

Viane Ward and her two children were among the first clients that utilized the WomanHaven shelter in Holtville.

“Viane was the executive director for WomanHaven and was my inspiration. Even though she went through theses hardship conditions, she was still so giving, her energy so positive, and always wanting to give back. I see her as a role model,” said Gina Vargas, executive director for WomanHaven.

United Way of Imperial County received the Partners in Advocacy Award as a partner to WomanHaven striving to improve services for the victims of domestic violence.

Recipient of the Visionary Award was AT&T Director of External Affairs, Christine Moore, in recognition of her vision and leadership in ending violence against women.

The event gathered dozens of supporters including concerned citizens, families of those who lost their lives due to domestic violence, those who came to honor the survivors, and those who work to end the violence in the county.

Five deceased woman from the Imperial Valley were chosen to represent the many who loose their lives each year to domestic violence.

Teresa Romero was murdered by her husband leaving 6 children behind, on March 26, 1989. Betty Aida Prince was murdered by her husband, on January 10, 1995. Elizabeth Barrios was murdered by her brother on March 15, 2005. Veronica Pineda lost her life at the hands of her husband, October 8, 2008. Amber Bryant was shot at point blank range by her husband inside her vehicle on October 4, 2010, which was witnessed by her 10-year old son in the back seat.

“These are the only five that come forward, usually victims don’t want to talk about it,” said Vargas. “We invite all those who want their loved ones remembered to contact us here at WomanHaven. We need to create awareness and let those victims that are in abusive relationships know that there is help, they just need to take that step.”

WomanHaven also unveiled their new logo Tuesday evening at Cheval Farm.

WomanHaven Center for Family Solutions promotes and provides a comprehensive response to domestic violence, stalking and human trafficking through Community Outreach & Prevention, Intervention, Client Support Services; and Safety and Shelter Services.

“Our mission is to provide shelter, safety, service and security for victims of domestic violence and their children, to educate the community about this problem, and to prevent violence with the ultimate goal of eliminating it from our communities,” said Vargas.

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