Sonoma County resident Kami Reep was fired from two consecutive bookkeeping jobs in 2015—but not because she’d performed poorly or done anything wrong. In each case, she was fired because she had to take time off after her abusive ex-husband kidnapped two of their three children.
Author: Lily Dayton
An hour before sunset, a Neapolitan-striped RV lurches into the church parking lot near a wooded area on the Monterey Peninsula. A 65-year-old woman named Irene Evers Elisabeth guides the hulking vehicle into a parking space; her dog Buster rides shotgun. They’ll sleep here tonight, like they have for the past month—the first month in years when Elisabeth hasn’t had to worry about waking in the night to a police officer pounding at her camper door, shining a flashlight in her windows and ordering her to move on.
Aswad Thomas made a quick stop at a convenience store to buy a bottle of pink lemonade on a hot summer night in 2009. He had recently graduated from college—the first in his family to attend a university—and he’d been recruited to play professional basketball overseas. He was leaving the market when two men approached him in the parking lot. One pointed a gun at Thomas; the other pointed two at him. They shot him twice in the back.
Issac Rodriguez always dreamed of making movies, but the Watsonville High School junior didn’t think it was something he would ever actually do. His parents worked long hours in the strawberry fields just to make ends meet; the family couldn’t afford a computer—let alone a video camera and editing software.
The 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reported more than one in four women has experienced severe physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner, including being slammed against something, hit with a hard object or beaten. Studies show that many of these women would disclose abuse to health care providers if they were asked—but few are.
When Los Angeles County resident Cynthia Smith mustered the courage to leave her abusive husband, she had nowhere to go but her car. She lived out of her vehicle until she began to accrue parking tickets she couldn’t pay for—and then her car was towed. Suddenly, the former middle-class housewife found herself alone on the streets. Her only option was a homeless drop-in center on Skid Row.
Studies have found that the prevalence of domestic violence and dating violence among college students is on par with the number of female college students who’ve experienced sexual assault. “About 21 percent of college students report they are experiencing violence from a current partner,” says Jessica Merrill, communications manager for California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.
In 2014, a storm of protests erupted at Stanford University after student Leah Francis sent an email with a message that went viral: “Stanford did not expel the man who raped me.”
A cellphone is a lifeline for survivors who need to dial 911, find a safe place to stay or reach out for support. But they also make victims vulnerable to their abuser.
Some days, Celia Díaz doesn’t want to get out of bed. But, since she’s the major wage earner in her household, she doesn’t have much choice. Six days a week, she drags herself to the Santa Cruz restaurant where she works 10- and 12-hour days as head prep cook.