EL CENTRO – WomanHaven hosted its 14th Annual Remember My Name Walk Wednesday with a march that began in El Centro Town square as survivors, families, and supporters chanted and held their signs high in protest of domestic violence.
WomanHaven of El Centro has been helping victims of domestic violence in the Imperial Valley for more than 40 years. The event’s purpose was to raise awareness against domestic violence, show support for the survivors, and remember those who lost their lives.
After marchers made it to the El Centro Superior Court House, Executive Director of WomanHaven Gina Vargas had a few opening remarks. She explained the purpose of the walk and the importance of raising awareness about domestic violence.
The event also served as a memorial to eight victims who lost their lives because of domestic violence, and families of the victims were presented with a candle to honor the memory of their loved ones.
Event goers had the opportunity to hear a survivor’s testimonial from Flor Overton. She spoke of enduring abuse from her husband for nine years. Overton said she was not interested in reenacting the story of abuse, but wished to spread a message of hope.
“To anyone that is experiencing abuse, you are not alone,” Overton said. “Look around at all of the people that have gathered here to support you. You are valuable. You are not meant to be battered. You are meant to be safe, respected, and loved.”
Overton said she was scared when she decided to leave the abusive situation in her life. She had four young children and she was unsure of what the future held for her if she made the decision to leave.
“If I couldn’t do it for myself, I had to do it for my children. Domestic violence did not define me,” Overton said.
California Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, spoke at the event as well. He explained the importance of the role men and young men in the community play in domestic violence.
“As men and young men, we have a huge responsibility to make sure that domestic violence is eradicated from our community,” said Garcia.
According to the Imperial County Assistant District Attorney Deborah Owen, one in four women and one in seven men experience domestic violence. She also stated that there was about 180 domestic violence related cases in Imperial County in the last year.
Owen said, “We know that if we’re here today, it’s because someone else isn’t.”