On May 19th I presented at the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence Annual Advocate Retreat. We explored how growing up as a Latina affected my experience of violence and resilience. I’ve realized in my writing over the past few months how much my father used our cultural beliefs to perpetrate his violence. Respect is an important value in my family and our culture. My father took any action he wanted as a disrespectul act and used that as an excuse to hurt me and my brothers. There were other ways he manipulated our culture in order to hurt us. I think I would have continued to believe that the violence is part of our culture if it weren’t for wonderful Latinas had not helped me to balance my view of Latino culture. So for example, our next door neighbor, Ester Rodriequez showed me how kind and loving Latinas can be. Sister Mary Leon, my second grade teacher, showed me how catholIcism wasn’t about violence. She also connected me to Latina nuns at her convent that taught me to read and write in Spanish. And more importantly that Latinas are caring, thoughtful and loving women. I’ve since met many Latino men who are very passionate, caring and would never hurt their family or anyone else.These people and others helped me to feel smart and capable.
In my healing, I found the language of Spanish, very triggering. Most of my abuse was in Spanish. So I advise if the victim/survivor can speak Spanish and English, please give them a choice. Some victims will rather speak in their second language – English.
It was a wonderful audience and a lot of them stayed with me for most of the day. Thank you!
The Sum of My Parts Now Available
This memoir follows Olga as she splits herself into “parts” and develops dissociative identity disorder with the abuse, and then struggles to merge these parts and overcome the disorder in adulthood.
A Survivor’s Story Now Available
Olga’s critically acclaimed first-hand account of the impact of violence in her life is available in both English and Spanish.