The Child and Family Center held its annual Purple Palooza walk to end domestic violence on Saturday, which was attended by hundreds and raised thousands.
The event was mainly jovial — beginning with music over the loudspeakers, purple chalk and clothing ornamenting everything, photo opportunities with dogs and a breakfast proceeding it.
However, what the event was all about is not something to be taken lightly. For instance, while many enjoyed having adorable dogs to take photos with and accompany them during their walk, they were included to help raise awareness on the dangers of domestic violence has on pets. According to the Child and Family Center, 71% of survivors report that their abusers threatened to harm or kill their pets as a way to manipulate them.
This year, Luz Sanchez was the event’s speaker. She shared her story in front of over 240 people on Saturday.
Sanchez detailed the complexities of being a domestic violence survivor, saying the first memory she ever had as a child was of domestic abuse. The eldest of four, she said she “never had an example of a healthy relationship,” repeated unhealthy cycles and patterns learned during her childhood and ignored red flags in her romantic relationships.
As a single mom, she met someone who she said masked abuse with romantic dinners and the promise of a long and happy marriage. She ignored his quick temper and swift mood changes, which she described as going “on and off” like a light switch or “hot and cold.”
“I realized that I felt so ashamed to be abused, that I kept quiet,” said Sanchez. “Let me tell you something — fear, shame and silence are the partner crimes of abuse. If you keep silent, the abuse will continue.”
As she cooked, cleaned, worked and took care of her children, all while being abused, she said her husband had an affair and blamed it on her. She eventually mustered up the courage to ask for a divorce, which took years, and was able to gain assistance through a friend who worked as a lawyer for men and women utilizing the Violence Against Women Act..
She escaped and began the road to recovery. Sanchez now holds a bachelor’s degree in cinema and television arts and is the author of four published books. Her parting words to the crowd was that one’s life is worth fighting for, one’s children are worth fighting for and that she hoped her, and others’ story could “serve as a guiding light for those who are still lost in the shadows of abuse.”
“To all fellow warriors of the human spirit. Today I stand here, not as a sole story, but as a voice echoing the stories of countless human beings who have suffered domestic violence, pretending things are OK,” said Sanchez. “My story, the unique details, is a reflection of the battles all of us have suffered in silence.”
State Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, who represents the 40th district that includes most of the Santa Clarita Valley, was in attendance and said it was unfortunate that there is a need for domestic violence survivor support, but that she was glad there was a community of people willing to help.
“When we’re sitting there voting on bills when we’re discussing important issues in Sacramento, the experience of the people in our community is what informs us doing the work in Sacramento and propels us to advocate more strongly to be able to share those stories to push for policies that are gonna really make a difference in people’s lives,” Schiavo said in regards to hearing survivors’ stories. “So it’s really important to me, I think, the stories of how people are impacted and how people are helped. There’s nothing more powerful than that.”
Purple Palooza raised over $65,000 for its domestic violence program, with the help of 400 people who participated in the walk and 100 volunteers.