It is rooted in Hispanic culture, she explained, that a woman submits to her husband. It is a tradition, she added, that is still taught in many Hispanic households, one that perpetuates the belief that a man is superior, one that encourages the mistreatment of women. In Hispanic culture, many women are taught to obey their husbands, to bow their heads in agreement with them.
“The majority of Hispanic women endure that kind of treatment,” Anastasia said. “The majority suffers; but the majority does not seek help, they remain silent. Others remain silent because of the ‘what will people say’ factor. They worry about what others will think when they learn that they are suffering, that they are being abused. So they remain silent, they do not say anything.
I know now that it is better to ask for help, to risk some in asking for help, then to remain anonymous, to leave your situation unknown. Fear affects you greatly, I understand. At one point, I even had people tell me that I would lose my children if I went and asked for help. That’s why there are so many people that are being mistreated, but because of the fear of losing their children, they do not ask for help; that’s a huge mistake.”
Multiple national studies have shown that reaching out for help, especially in the form of relocating to a safe shelter, leads to a 60 to 70 percent reduction in incidence and severity of re-assault during the three to 12-month follow-up period when compared to women who did not access shelter services. According to Anastasia, the combination of her experiences at the shelter, the good deeds of others, and especially, the strength of her children, helped propel her forward.
“You can’t wait for a tragedy to happen—think of all the women, all the children that have died because of those situations,” Anastasia said. “Many children never recover. Fortunately, my daughter was able to receive the help she needed, they were able to save her, but many never overcome that trauma. They become vegetables, unable to think anything, to communicate.”