A true success story

By Martha Donnelly

Shall I tell you a true CASA success story that is the result of your generosity? So often we give and can only imagine the benefit. No need to imagine now!

 9th Annual San Miguel Walk Against Violence, benefit for CASA’s Domestic Violence, Prevention Programs, Tue, Jan 24, Trish at tsmar30@aol.com/121-0612, Dulce at CASA 154-6060, www.casa.org.mx/walk

 Maria (an alias name) is 24 years old and has two children–3-year-old Angela and 8-year-old Pedro (also aliases). Do the math to realize that she became a mother at the tender age of 16. She lives about an hour away in the rural community of Tierra Blanca.

One day she was beaten so badly by her husband that she suffered lesions on her body and face that would require stitches. She called the CASA domestic violence hotline for help and staff arrived to transport her and her children to CASA for shelter. They stayed for four days. Maria was safe inside the emergency shelter, received medical attention and was educated regarding her legal rights based on the Domestic Violence Law. While CASA psychologist Dulce Ortiz and assistant psychologist Karen Yael Rueda attended to the emotional needs of her and her children, the legal staff explained that she had the power to file a police report—and she did!

Her husband was jailed and could only return home if she forgave him. She chose to do so but ‘home’ will not be the same. To assist Maria in creating a new and respectful domestic pattern Dulce or Karen have talked to her on the phone several times and are planning a home visit within 15 days. The Ministerio del Público recommends services for the husband to improve his behavior: receive counseling, provide child support, and respect his wife and her decisions. Maria knows that if he attacks her again he will be removed from the house, jailed and required to go before the judge as an official case in which there is no possibility of forgiveness. Additionally a restraining order can be issued that keeps him away from the house regardless of ownership.

The key to success and the goal of CASA’s Violence Prevention program is to give crucial and timely assistance to women in need by providing immediate medical, psychological and legal support that empower victims to find their own voice, claim their own boundaries, and take action. Maria did!

A future without domestic violence

Presently CASA’s Violence Prevention program serves about 1,000 clients a year. These women “don’t recognize what is happening to them.” They “don’t like what they feel” but can’t give it a name and so don’t recognize it as violence. Therefore the Violence Prevention initiatives have two targets. The first is to educate children through workshops in the rural communities, and in grades 6-12 in the schools but primarily in high school. Here they conduct workshops about planning for the future, teen pregnancy, dropping out of school, vandalism, drug addiction, sexuality and contraceptives, self-esteem and depression, violence including domestic violence and violence in relationships.

Through this venue CASA identifies and names dysfunctional behavior as “violence” and helps young women grow into adulthood better informed in order to live safely and fully. Clearly the more children learn model behavior in their relationships with each other, the less likely they will be to continue the cycle of domestic violence that has so impacted the women and families of Mexico. (Small churches in pueblitos offer a platform for CASA to connect with clients but services are often limited by religious ideology.) Second, CASA provides preventative counseling services as well as emergency response for vulnerable women.

Ortiz estimates that currently around 25% of the local populace is impacted by the CASA Violence Prevention program that connects with children, families and women. While the geographic center of their work is the San Miguel municipality, CASA goes beyond political boundaries to serve some of the ranchos around Dolores Hidalgo and Comonfort.

The need is great and your donations help CASA to reach out to the many women in need both in San Miguel de Allende and beyond. Please consider helping CASA now with their important work.

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