Latina Women’s Conference is a First; Women Seek Healing, Empowerment

Apr. 7, 2014 / By

More than 300 persons attended the very first Latina Women’s Conference in Long Beach last Saturday.

The event, attended by women across Long Beach and Los Angeles, was organized by local organization Long Beach Latinos in Action. Organizer Marta Cota said the event aimed to “open the heart and mind of the woman, so she knows that she is powerful and capable.”

Breakout groups focused on healing emotions, medical and legal assistance for women in abusive relationships, and barriers dealing with sexual abuse.

Rosy Velasco, one of the featured speakers, said that the cycle of dysfunctional relationships is often passed down from generation to generation.

“Whose job is it to break the chain?” she asked.

“Las nuestras (Ours)”, the audience replied.

“The root is that people haven’t dealt with emotions of the past,” Velasco said. “The solution is to see the world with your own lens, and with an outlook for love.”

Lawyers and doctors also presented a panel on resources and how to navigate difficult situations. They also presented an option for educated immigrants to restart their professional lives in the U.S. That program provides classes, training, and resources to immigrant professionals commonly underemployed in the U.S.

Sexual assault crisis workers from the Young Women’s Christian Association also presented a discussion on recognizing sexual abuse and barriers to speaking out. Speakers Olivia Alvarez and Gaby Rodriguez asked the audience, “Who is the only person that can prevent an assault?”

“We can,” the audience said. But Alvarez said they were wrong.

“Let’s look at the aggressor,” she said. “The only person that can prevent abuse is the abuser.”

She said culture not only prevents society from speaking about abuse, but also judges victims’ actions and not perpetrators’.

Current mayoral candidates, Vice Mayor Robert Garcia and State Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal also were in attendance. “You only accomplish something if you work together, si trabajan en la comunidad con todas las personas (if you work in the community with all of the people),” said Lowenthal, presenting a Certificate of Recognition to Cota and co-organizer Eva Ramirez.

Cota said the conference will continue as an annual event.

To hear what attendees had to say about the event and what they learned, click on the video above.

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Michael Lozano

Michael is an editor and multimedia journalist born to Mexican parents who started their own Domestic Violence counseling center in Southeast Los Angeles. His mentorship has provided youth opportunities to share their stories online on NPR, KCET, the Long Beach Post, and other national websites. His articles have been syndicated and translated into multiple languages via New America Media and ImpreMedia, the nation’s largest Spanish-language news publisher. He was a fellow with UCLA's Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies, and has recently been a Votebeat Reporter for CalMatters and the Long Beach Post. Michael graduated from CSULB in 2011 with research honors in Sociology and a Journalism minor. Follow his work @chicanochico on Twitter and @thechicanochicoreport on Instagram.