The Mixteca Organization premiered its new Multifaceted Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Initiative on Wednesday, September 19 at its office located on 245 23rd Street, in Sunset Park.
Dr. Gabriel Rincon, who founded the organization in 2000, and is originally from Mexico, established this initiative from the proceeds of the Robert Woods Johnson Community Health Leader Award, which he won in 2011. A passionate immigrant himself who focused on helping the Hispanic community in Sunset Park, Rincon opened the foundation with his heart set in on bringing HIV/AIDS information to his fellow Latin American population.
“Domestic violence is a prevalent problem in the Mexican immigrant community here in New York,” Rincon stated.
“The trauma following domestic violence and abuse can be heightened unless addressed in a setting that provides appropriate awareness of the circumstance surrounding the victim,” he said, especially referring to the children who have watched the violence and who could potentially become abusive in the future.
“We have to go before we have a crisis,” he added, and “show them exactly what is considered domestic violence in New York-psychological, physical or emotional.”
Rincon had the support of the Mexican Consul, Carlos Sada, as well as the Executive Director of Lutheran Family Health Care, Larry McReynolds, who represented Lutheran Hospital, a partner which will be supporting the program and assisting victims of abuse. He shared a personal memory of the first year he started working at Lutheran when one of his colleagues left an abusive husband and was shot and killed on the street when he found out.
Having witnessed domestic violence personally, District Attorney Charles Hynes spoke of his experiences. “As a child of domestic violence, I’ve been able to do many things and make sure no one’s brutalized like my mother was,” he explained.
Councilmember Sara Gonzalez, and Commissioner Yolanda Jimenez of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence also showed their support. “There are cultural barriers that keep our families from seeking help,” Gonzalez remarked, adding that she believes language shouldn’t have to be an issue. “Prevention begins at birth,” she concluded.
“There is domestic violence in every community. It is all too real,” Jimenez said, “it goes beyond what a physical bruise can show.”
Lilia Valerdi, a victim of domestic violence, joined the crowd with her grandson Michael. She is a volunteer at Mixteca and attended the press conference to encourage the initiative. Her husband was an alcoholic who would verbally mistreat her. “I should’ve left [at the time], but I stayed,” she recalled. “I didn’t dare because he was the father of my four children.”
Valerdi said she teaches her daughters now that they are not forced to endure any type of cruelty from their spouses. With the help of “the one from above,” she said she was able to recover and move on. “He was sick, but I didn’t have to put up with his oppression.”