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Sacramento leaders raise awareness about domestic violence following shooting inside church

<i>KCRA</i><br/>Monday evening's shooting inside a Sacramento County church is raising awareness about domestic violence situations and a lack of resources for both mothers and fathers.
Monday evening's shooting inside a Sacramento County church is raising awareness about domestic violence situations and a lack of resources for both mothers and fathers.

By Maricela De La Cruz

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    SACRAMENTO, California (KCRA) — Monday evening’s shooting inside a Sacramento County church is raising awareness about domestic violence situations and a lack of resources for both mothers and fathers.

A gunman, later identified as 39-year-old David Mora Rojas, shot and killed his daughters and a chaperone supervising the children before turning the gun on himself. KCRA 3 obtained court records showing a restraining order was filed by the mother of the children against Mora Rojas.

The document details the mother’s concern for safety due to the father’s “mental instability.” Mora Rojas was also arrested the week before the shooting in Merced County on charges relating to DUI and assault on an officer, the sheriff’s office confirmed.

KCRA 3 spoke with some men who shared their experiences and struggles with required supervised visits and the steps they took to seek mental health help.

Last year, James Silveira found himself in what he describes as a dark place when he had to go through the court system to determine custody and visitation of his child. As a result, he helped create Fathers Do Matter, which focuses on supporting and empowering fathers.

“I totally understand that negative energy, going to somewhere where you’ve given your all for a child and then that child is stripped from you. And now you’re going to supervised visits after you’ve been providing for years and years,” Silveira said.

The nonprofit organization hosts community events for fathers and children, workshops for law resources and help with paperwork, limited-scope attorneys, mental health psycho-education and mindfulness, and mentorship. They also hold semi-monthly support groups for fathers via Zoom and financial support for legal services, which Angela Grijalva, a paralegal at the organization, said can be very costly and a difficult system to navigate.

“We’re hoping at our workshops that we can help them at least get their stuff filed. That is a hurdle within itself, getting the copies you needed assembling in a way that the court will accept them,” said Grijalva, adding that other barriers include a lack of access to the justice gap, language gaps and resource gaps.

In the U.S., fathers are granted custody 18.3% of the time.

The situation is all too familiar for Brandan Jackson who also experienced a similar situation 14 years ago.

“When that court order was put in place, she [my daughter] would cry just because she didn’t know who I was,” Jackson said.

Wanting to be a part of his daughter’s life is what motivated him to seek assistance from the Center for Fathers and Families at 920 Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento, where he was able to get several services, such as taking parenting classes and other certificates to prove to a judge his commitment to being a part of his daughter’s life.

Terry Moore, the director of adult services at the Center for Fathers and Families, said one reason for the high number of absent dads is due to a lack of services like theirs. The center offers an array of resources including anger management, parenting, domestic violence, life skills and youth services.

Moore said that co-parenting doesn’t have to be difficult and they’re doing their part to make sure that fathers who get help at their shelter are prepared with the skills needed to be a part of their child’s life.

“We want men to take leadership in their lives and we want them to be examples and pillars and nurture their children even though the mom is not there,” Moore said.

On Tuesday night, the city of Sacramento made a request to increase city outreach for available domestic violence services in response to the tragic shooting.

“We’ve allocated over $4 million from our COVID-relief dollars and general fund dollars because we knew at the beginning of the pandemic that domestic violence was not only an issue that was prevalent not only in our city, but that would expand,” city council member Eric Guerra said.

Guerra adds that while domestic violence exists among every demographic, communities of color tend to lack access to resources.

City officials have been able to support organizations that assist with issues relating to domestic violence like the Sacramento Family Justice Center, My Sister’s House, Saint John’s, Weave and city of Refuge.

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CNN Newsource


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