Assault victims empowered by speak-out event


Director of Diversity, Compliance, and Title IX Coordinator Valyncia Raphael, informed students about Domestic Violence Awareness Month. She opened up an open-mic session. Photo credit: Rocio Valdez

Rocio Valdez

Cerritos College raises awareness at the Domestic Violence Awareness Month speak-out event for survivors to empower each other and share their stories during the open mic session.

Valyncia Raphael, Director of Diversity, Compliance, and Title IX Coordinator, along with Student Title lX Ambassadors which was created by ASCC to spread awareness about sexual violence prevention collaborated to put together the event.

The event provided resources for victims of violence or anyone that wants to spread awareness as well as to give the opportunity for survivors to share their experiences.

Even though no one spoke during the open mic session, Raphael stated, “I think it’s fine, I think it’s important that we continue to create space. I know this is something important to students on campus, I’m just excited that we were able to have people come out.”

Some students were in the Student Center where the event took place and were able to get free pizza and become aware it is DVAM and were glad the college does these types of events to raise awareness.

Samantha Perez, nursing major, knew it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month but was not aware it was also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

She says she has not gone through such experiences, but expresses, “I hear a lot of stories and it’s really sad to hear. I think we should be more concerned and aware,” Perez said.

Maurice Martinez, cosmetology major, suggested for students to get informed because then they can help a friend when there are warning signs.

The topic is very meaningful to him. He shared, “My ex-girlfriend used to actually do it to me. I’m really against hitting females, so when she used to do what she did I couldn’t stop it- sometimes you just have to get out of that situation.”

There were six non-profit organizations that attended the event:

1. East Los Angeles Women’s Center

Counseling services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as parenting and sexual assault awareness classes are some of the things they offer.

They have a 24-hour hotline, which they take volunteers to be part of the hotline and advocacy services.

Nancy Sandoval, representative of ELAWC shared, “the goal is for them to live a healthier lifestyle and for them to have a productive life, healthier relationships and to help them all around.”

2. Active Minds

An in-campus organization helps spread awareness for mental health.

Alferd Quesada, representative of AM said, “We help students on campus to find resources and information regarding different disorders and how to work alongside so they can have the opportunity to learn about disorders that they might be facing at home/campus/work and what they can do and find coping skills.”

3. Student Health Services

Another in-campus service, provides general physical health and mental health services.

Humberto Hernandez, Psychologist in Student Health says, “It’s really important for students to utilize all the services that are available to them to become successful.”

4. American Indian Counseling Center

Stephanie Mushrush, Psychiatric Social Worker said, “We provide mental health services so counseling, case management and medication support sometimes we have clients that come in and they might have like a short-term crisis and they come in for a few months and some that like us and they stay for a while. We treat all ages.”

5. YWCA Greater Los Angeles Sexual Assault Crisis Services

They provide counseling services to survivors of sexual assault (ages 12+), hospital accompany services for a rape kit exam, police and court accompaniments.

Jasmine Collmann, program manager for Compton Empowerment Center said, “I feel like domestic violence as well as sexual assault is a very taboo topic in our country; no one really wants to talk about it but it happens on a daily basis and if one person speaks up, that can change everything for someone.”

She emphasized the importance for one to become aware of these issues to pass the information along and empower survivors who have not been able to give voice to their violence.

6. South Asian Network

Assist the South Asia and all communities with social services (public benefits, government insurance), citizenship fee waiver, and free mental health therapy/counseling, domestic violence and sexual assault support

Bilal Kazmi, volunteer and outreach coordinator, thinks it’s very important for student to get informed, saying, “A lot of college students don’t understand the fact that many of them do qualify for government health care and that’s something they can get through us for free. At this age they don’t necessarily take their health that seriously and there are benefits provided that they should take advantage of.”