Domestic violence issue brought into the light at Old Town workshop

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“We cannot always prevent tragedies … what we can do is come together to prevent it happening again.”

Those poignant words were spoken at Monday night’s Domestic Violence Workshop by Rev. Dr. Mary Walton, Interval House’s first director.

Interval House was the sponsor of the workshop, organized shortly after mid-July, when a woman was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in his Seal Beach apartment before he committed suicide with the same gun. Interval House serves as a respite home and offers numerous resources for battered women and their children and was founded here in 1979.

During the informational event, two well-dressed and poised women spoke to the capacity crowd about their experiences as victims of domestic violence. Both women said they would probably have been killed had they not sought help from Interval House.

One of the victims, identified as Laura, called her marriage “her darkest hour.” She said she was isolated for eight years and abused “physically, financially, sexually, mentally and verbally.”

“As a victim of domestic violence you begin to believe it’s your fault,” Laura said, telling her story of being confined in a basement by an abusive husband.

After the Salon Meritage incident, which is classified as domestic violence, no one can say “It can’t happen in Seal Beach.” And the recent murder/suicide in Old Town also drove home that point. In fact, Interim Police Chief Joe Miller told those assembled for the meeting that domestic violence calls are not unusual here.

“We have had 10 victims in the last 10 years (who died), and we receive calls almost daily,” Miller said. Then Police Commander Phil Gonshak took to the stage and asked the women if anyone in the audience had been a victim of domestic violence themselves. He counted 20 women who raised their hands, noting there were about 60 people in the audience.

“One out of three of you raised your hands. That means one of my three daughters could fall victim and that angers me,” Gonshak said.

The police stressed the importance of protective orders, and urged women to seek them to get their abuser to stay away. An Emergency Protective Order can be sought 24 hours a day because judges are on call for such emergencies. Another important piece of information was how to make a “Safety Plan.” It may not ever have to be used, but anyone in an abusive situation should have one just in case. A Safety Plan would mean copies of important documents, Passports, extra keys to the house and cars and banking information. All kept in a safe place, those things can be invaluable if a victim needs to leave a dangerous situation quickly.

Domestic violence issue brought into the light at Old Town workshop