Victims of Assault Share Their Stories


Chelsea Heath

Cassidy Bartolo, Staff Writer

          Students opened their ears for the “Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking Event” at the Learning Resource Center quad on Feb. 21. Mark Malebranche, community health nurse adjunct, put together the event to promote awareness of these social issues with the help of local organizations like Children of the Immaculate Heart, Center of Community Solutions and Southern Indian Health Council. 

          Jenna Christakis, office manager at Immaculate Heart, stated that San Diego is of the FBI’s 13 most trafficked cities in the country, with Mission Valley being the “hot spot” for people to get picked up into trafficking. Gangs made an estimated $800 million in sales each year in San Diego in the sales of the underground sex economy. “We want to give them something they haven’t felt and surround them with people who care about their well being,” Christakis said.

         Christaki said that young individuals need to always keep their guard up, especially with online dating, as traffickers look to groom you into gaining their trust.   

          All the organizations presented tables with information and a safe space for students to seek advice, information and awareness of the things happening in their community and potentially in their life. Malebranche said, “we want to see students gain the knowledge to help others.”

          Malebranche played a “Tea and Consent” video on replay throughout the event for students to learn about consent and the rights individuals have to their bodies with the examples of offering and making someone tea. The video showed students that at any time one may withdraw their consent and if the person is unable to give consent to sex or other related activities then no sexual action should be taken.

          Renuka Zellars with the Immaculate Heart and Talia McGuire- Haywood with the Southern Indian Health Council told their stories about breaking out as a human trafficked labor slave and abusive domestic relationships. Zellars first spoke out about her long history being trafficked from India to the United States only six months ago, where she now openly tells her story to others for inspiration about life after being trafficked.

          The Southern Indian Health Council primarily focuses on services for Native American individuals but they extend to anyone seeking help and more information. McGuire-Haywood mentioned that their main goal is to spread the message of importance of healthy relationships and communication to all. She stated, “I hope to get closer to the younger generation and help them understand consent, respect and the power of control,”.

         Mesa student, Sabrina Davidson, 30, was taking in the event and its offerings as she described the subject as “sensitive but the students need to know this.” Davidson added, “we should practice peaceful relationships and be more mindful.

          Community Solutions offers support, hotlines and counseling to many diverse members of society like the LGBTQ community, domestic violence victims and sexual assault victims while working closely with the justice system to provide these victims the encouragement they deserve. Immaculate Heart advertised their upcoming achievement of opening a home in North County late summer of 2018 to bringing in six girls at a time to provide special counseling and needs for victims, proper education and group work and other amenities to give them the platform the build a new life.  

          McGuire-Haywood said, “being busy at work is scary because it means a lot of women are in need of help, but it’s a good thing because they are here seeking the help they deserve.”