Domestic abuse survivor shares personal story

By Lt. Everardo Silva, AA/Public Information Officer
Calipatria State Prison

Domestic violence survivor Rachel Woelke spoke during the event at Calipatria State Prison.

Domestic violence survivor Rachel Woelke spoke during the event at Calipatria State Prison.

Calipatria State Prison recently held a National Crime Victims Memorial Ceremony featuring guest speaker Rachel Woelke, who shared her personal story of surviving domestic violence.

She spoke before a crowd of staff and guests, telling about her boyfriend abusing her emotionally and mentally for years before brutally beating her and threatening her with a gun. He was later sentenced to more than nine years in prison.

“It needs to be voiced so that way we can survive these things and thrive once we’ve gotten through them,” she said. “People are suffering in silence, because they are ashamed of these things, but you need to have support to know that it’s OK.”

She also said, “I’m hoping people in the Imperial Valley know there are programs out there to help and people don’t have to be quiet as these things are wrong.”

Warden Warren L. Montgomery said the rights of victims are important.

“It is through them and their personal tragedy that we now have a motivating force to improve our response to crime and help bridge the gap from victim to survivor,” said Warden Montgomery.

Community Resource Manager Claudia S. Macias told guests the theme of the week was fitting.

“The theme of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week this year is Engaging Communities Empowering Victims, emphasizing the role of the entire community individually and collectively, as we support victims of crime and empower them to direct their own recovery,” said Macias.

Correctional Sgt. Robert Silvas plays taps.

Correctional Sgt. Robert Silvas plays taps.

Chief Deputy Warden Belinda Hedrick said everyone is vulnerable.

“As we are out in the community we need to remember that crimes and victims is not simply somebody else but somebody we know and love; and that we are all vulnerable to increasing threats of violence,” she said.

The ceremony also featured the posting of colors by the Calipatria State Prison’s Honor Guard and a playing of taps by Correctional Sgt. Robert Silvas.