If you or someone you know suffered domestic violence, ask yourself: Have I imitated violence in my home? And will my children do the same when they have their own homes?

Have we mimicked violence or victimization from others and will our children do the same? It is up us to analyze our own situations and make tough but healthy decisions in order to break free from hostile living conditions. Have we been imprisoned by dominant forces and have we surrendered our instinct for survival?

God created each of us with our own blueprint and with a specific purpose. We are individuals, capable of deciding not to abuse or be abused by others. Abuse can be described as physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, and even neglect.

Breaking the circle violent

For years my mother suffered through the abuse of my father, an alcoholic. His abuse consisted of all the characteristics mentioned above yet she refused to leave him. The psychological and emotional harm it caused us was deep and I could have chosen to duplicate my father’s abusive behavior or my mother’s timid personality. Instead, I used what I witnessed as determination against such a harmful life style. If what we experience is harmful, shouldn’t we want to change that? A wise man learns from his mistakes, but wiser still is the man that learns from the mistakes of others.

A family tragedy

Ten years ago, my son Sergio was killed by my sister’s boyfriend. She was a willing participant to her boyfriend’s abusive and violent behavior. Tragically, my son was killed after confronting my sister’s abuser. How is it that my mother or my sister could not realize the gravity of their situation? At what point should they have said “enough”? Unimaginably, my sister remained with her boyfriend even after the homicide! How do we justify that and at what point do we begin to hold offenders accountable? The offenders continue to harm others until there is enough force brought against them to dissuade their violent behavior.

Let’s stop pretending that the problem doesn’t exist or that it will magically get better. Violent behavior feeds off intimidation and control and each subsequent situation escalates to inflict even more fear and control; therefore more violent in nature. This is a problem that transcends all cultures and socio-economic sectors, and that is why the effort to combat it needs to be collaborative and holistic.

Through this column, I hope to stimulate your thought process and provoke enough emotion to warrant a call-to-action. I want to motivate victims and offenders alike, to contribute their lessons and methods of healing so that their experience would inspire others to make that change.

I will not let the abusive circumstances of my childhood, or today, define me. Instead, I choose to honor my son’s memory and his courage. I make the conscientious decision to break the cycle of domestic violence…because it is up to me to decide whether I will be a victim or a victor…just as it is up to you.


Sandra Toscano Huerta

Author of the book Tiers of Sorrow

Advocate for victims of crime






Sandra Toscano Huerta

Sandra was born in Mexico and migrated to the United States as a young child. She grew up in Southern California and is the middle child of a family of 11. She and her husband, worked hard to raise their children well. They have four children and two grandchildren. Sandra has extensive experience in marketing and graphic design. She is fluent in Spanish and uses her bilingual skills in both her professional life and within non-profit organizations whenever the need arises. Tragedy devastated her and her family with the homicide of her 21-year old son; which took place in April of 2004, by her sister’s boyfriend, a 2-strike felon and gang member. Adding to their horrific loss, the killer was a fugitive for ten taunting months and when he was finally arrested and tried by a jury, the tragedy mounted by a shocking acquittal. Sandra found herself in a tormented state for months, until confronted with a choice that had to be made in order to survive her son’s death and once again be the mom she needed to be for her surviving children. Shortly after the acquittal; her family moved across the country in fear of their own safety. Through the frustrating and painful experience during the criminal trial, she found herself compelled to help other victims needing a linguistic resource, and determined to help make a difference, she now works as an independent interpreter. She is a Victims' Advocate for North Carolina Gang Investigators' Association (NCGIA) and volunteers with local grief support groups. Through public speaking and with efforts to provide hope and encouragement to bereaved individuals suffering the death of a loved one, Sandra endeavors to bring awareness about the aftermath of violent crimes. In addition, she believes it’s important to be proactive and work to gain ground in the areas of gang and domestic violence prevention.

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