Nicolas Cholula grew up in Orange County, Calif., where he first picked up a film camera while working at a thrift store and quickly fell in love with photography. Nicolas chased his passion into community college, where he took his first classes in photography. Since then, Nicolas has become most interested in telling stories from his community and photographing current events. He is currently working toward his Bachelor of Arts in Photojournalism at San Francisco State University and works as the Multimedia Editor for the Golden Gate Xpress.
DA’s office puts in the steps for domestic survivor advocacy
DA Chesa Boudin, domestic violence survivors and advocates take part in “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” event
October 29, 2021
A large group of people walked around the Potrero Hill neighborhood on Wednesday, many wearing suits and some wearing casual clothing. They walked to advocate for love and empathy for domestic violence survivors.
This group included District Attorney Chesa Boudin, members of his office, members of law enforcement and the community, who all took part in the “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” event to honor domestic violence survivors and the advocates who support them with awards and flowers.
The event was organized through the district attorney’s office and held at its headquarters at 350 Rhode Island St., nearing the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was closed off to the general public.
For the month, the DA’s office has advocated for domestic and sexual assault survivors by holding a press conference that discussed misconceptions and announced a new memorandum of understanding between multiple city agencies including UPD to expand survivor support resources in September.
During the previous conference, the DA’s office emphasized the importance of hearing feedback and criticism during this time.
Desirae Sotto walked to support her friend “L.F.” during the event and brought her allyship to support family and friends who have experienced abuse.
“L.F.” who was honored with a Community Hero Award by Boudin, declined to be interviewed by the Xpress and asked to leave her name undisclosed.
She, supported by her close friends, thanked the DA’s office and used her voice to offer words of support to survivors such as herself who have and are going through similar situations.
“Choose you, choose to love yourself,” L.F. said to the crowd. “It’s not selfish to put yourself first. You’re worthy. You’re surrounded by people who show you unconditional love.”
Sotto noted the common misconceptions of domestic violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.“It’s shocking, and eye opening,” Sotto said.
Assistant DA in the domestic violence family unit, Tanisha Gooch noted that helping domestic violence survivors comes with a lot of gray areas and a lot of complexities.
“We go based on the evidence and what we can prove,” Gooch said. “It’s a matter of what we can prove and whether or not the victim may be participating.”
While she has been working with the DA’s office as the Violence Prevention and Strategic Director for only three weeks, Carolina Morales has worked on counseling and leadership development for survivors over the past 15 years.
While walking in the group, she mentioned how important having adequate responses to cases of domestic violence that survivors deserve.
“We want to make sure that we have the skills and the capacity necessary to really serve with dignity every survivor, whether there are differences around language, or a different culture, or sexual orientation, gender identity, we need to make sure that we are ready to be responsive,” Morales said.
Assistant District Attorney and the Chief of Victims Services and Special programs Kasie W. Lee mentioned some challenges in getting witnesses to provide accurate recollections of events that transpired against them. One challenge can be the lack of interpreters, which if not present, would allow the officer to miss crucial facts and evidence that would make the case.
Some survivors and members of the media have criticized Boudin’s office toward its handling of some domestic violence cases, Lee highlighted the complexities of handling domestic violence cases and making sure witnesses and the evidence are in good standing.
“To address this issue is working with the police making sure that the statements, the evidence that we get is complete, that is preserved,” Lee said. “And you know, that’s crucial.”
In his closing statement, Boudin highlighted that without the unrecognized work of advocates in the community and in law enforcement, this conference wouldn’t be possible.
“We could not have the courageous survivors that we have here today receiving the justice that they deserve, being empowered to stand strong in the face of adversity, and moving forward with their lives not as victims but as survivors,” Boudin said.