PHOENIX — During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, one Valley survivor is using her past to help others have a better future.
“He hurt me. He pushed me, hurt my nose and my leg. So, I couldn't walk for months,” says Maria De Jesus Pulido-Castaneda, a survivor of domestic violence.
Maria went from seeking help to now offering help where it all began for her.
Chicanos Por La Causa - De Colores provides shelter and support services to domestic violence victims.
“They helped me with the protection order, with housing,” says Maria. “I’ve been taking classes here for counseling for domestic violence."
Maria received extensive training with therapists and counselors through the organization. She is now one of the faces of Las Promotoras, their community-based program, which empowers others with education to prevent abuse and help victims who are suffering.
"I understand the pain, the suffering, the [desperation]. It's too hard to survive when you don't have somebody to talk [to]," says Maria.
Domestic violence advocates are currently seeing an increase in calls, clients, and severity of cases. Emergency shelters in Maricopa County are full, with beds hard to come by. CPLC is finding different ways to not only keep up with the demand but keep survivors from going back to their abusers, recently adding an economic empowerment program.
"After they get out of this relationship... how to stand on their own, how to get a job, how to build credit," says Mary Contreras, Community Based Program Supervisor for CPLC - De Colores.
A big barrier in many cases is financial dependence and control.
“Some people say, 'where can I go if I don’t have a place to stay?' because the abuser lets you know that if he doesn't pay the rent, how can you survive?” says Maria.
For Maria, she was able to break free, not only for herself but for her sons. She no longer harbors any fear.
"I can see his face and his eyes and I can, you know, face him. So, I feel proud of myself,” says Maria.
For help, visit the Chicanos Por La Causa website.