By Maylyne Togafau |Staff Writer|
Option House Program Director, Gloria Amaya and Intern Randall Gupton join Coyote Radio and Coyote Chronicle to talk about domestic violence and the services they offer to fight it.
Option House Inc. has served victims of domestic violence since 1977. Their annual 10k walk-a-thon raises money for the San Bernardino shelter.
Can you tell us about the work you do as the Program Director of Option House?
Gloria: My job is to effectively develop and enhance the programs that we offer our clients. We deal with the victims of domestic violence: the victim, the perpetrator, and even the children. We have a 32-bed shelter here in San Bernardino. As Program Director, I do my best to make sure they receive the services they need. Whether that be restraining orders, supportive services which are ran by clinicians, and even parenting classes.
What inspired you to enter this line of work?
Gloria: When I was 19 years old, I worked at my first shelter. I didn’t realize how important it was to be an advocate at that time. After that, I worked in child care and human services then I received my bachelor’s degree in Sociology. I kind of fell into this agency, but I’m so glad that I did because as a child of domestic violence, this is what exactly what I’ve been through.
Can you tell us about the women you help? What kind of services do you offer them?
Gloria: To be politically correct a victim is anyone: men, women, and children. Society usually sees men as only perpetrators, but Option House has helped both victims and perpetrators of each sex.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we have support groups. In these groups, we empower the victim to make healthier choices for them and their family. We never tell the victim to leave their situation, because if they haven’t listened to their friends and family, who are we? We educate them on the forms of domestic violence and how it hurts themselves and their children.
What constitutes domestic violence?
Gloria: Society generally only sees domestic violence as physical, but there are so many forms that it can take. It is a behavior that is controllable by the perpetrator. They can control it at the supermarket or kid’s school, but when they’re in the privacy of their own home they lose control. Well, they feel they lose control, but they’ve always had control.
It is a behavior that can be changed if the perpetrator wants to change. Which is why we educate perpetrators, teaching them that the lifestyle they live isn’t right. Whether they learned this at home, in society, or environmentally—as with prisons.
What has been your biggest trial or biggest triumph in the work you do as an intern?
Randall: The biggest trial is getting our victims to follow through. It takes usually 6 times for a partner to leave a relationship, or to get help, so those who we see, for the most part, have made up their mind. But second guesses can be caused from fear of their perpetrator, shame, or stigma and they end up not getting the help they need. The triumph is in helping those who need and want it.
Visit www.optionhouseinc.org for more information.