Americas Columns

UPSIDE (Cherie M. Querol Moreno): Attorney General at ALLICE 20TH: ‘I have your back’

(Conclusion)

COLMA, California – ON ALLICE’s 20th anniversary, we returned to Colma, a homecoming on the representation of 5-time Colma Mayor Joanne del Rosario, whose lived experience with IPV proves the transformative power of empathy and trust, encouragement and understanding that she has received and pays forward.

The Colma leader 11 years ago had accepted our invitation to give testimony of her IPV experience at our annual DVAM presentation, breaking her own 50-year silence, as evidence that anyone can become abused regardless of background, heal and live a full life after. “I found my safe place here,” she often compliments the team for boosting her courage and confidence

Where would Claire Joyce be today had she not been robbed of the future she dreamed for herself, Justin and Janine?

A single mother to a young son and daughter living in San Francisco, she longed for a happy life with an intimate partner who would share her interests and her devotion to family.  She thought she had found that someone, but she feared his violent outbursts – yelling and cursing, slapping and punching her.  And then he would apologize, charm her, saying he would never hurt her again.  Only to break that promise over and over.

Claire Joyce sought and got counseling from San Francisco agencies and learned why some people abuse and why some people take abuse.

Someone in an abusive behavior can free herself from her situation if she is assured she can count on her circle of love and care for help.  After several failed attempts at working out their differences, Claire Joyce understood that her ex-partner, not she, was responsible for his behavior.  Once and for all, she told him she was done, their relationship was over.  But her ex would not let her leave and live, taking the matter in his hands – before the eyes of her two children.

The Tempongko case compelled the City and County of San Francisco to review and correct its procedures for responding to similar complex situations that involve different agencies.  Had responding officers known in a previous attack that the assailant had violated a restraining order, he would have been taken in custody and unable to carry out his lethal plan.

ALLICE keeps the memory of Claire Joyce Tempongko alive to remind each member of the community that we can help prevent abuse by learning as much as we can about the issue.  We can model healthy behaviors and engage in outreach activities, share our resources to spread the word, and not least, hold authorities accountable for developing and enforcing policies to make homes and communities safe.  Because the community is our responsibility, intimate partner abuse is everyone’s business.  More than 150 people who attended our milestone anniversary celebration Oct. 24 agreed and pledged in unison to help end family and domestic violence.

(Philippine News Today Executive Editor Cherie M. Querol Moreno is Founder-Executive Director of ALLICE and Manager of Got Wheels!, Peninsula Family Service transportation program for older adults.)